If the legendary Kipchoge Keino is the father of Kenyan athletics, then Naftali Temu is a step-father of sorts, a less visible, but nonetheless very influential figure in our sporting history.
On 13th October, 1968, Temu together with Keino, ran the 10,000m men’s final at the Mexico Olympics – a punishing, high altitude race that saw even Kip Keino drop off!
Ethiopia’s Mamo Wolde was leading at the bell, but drawing on inner strength and resilience, Temu overtook Wolde in the home stretch and crossed the line in 29 minutes 27.40 seconds to win Kenya its first ever Olympic gold medal.
Born in Sotik born and raised in Nyamira, Temu, trained routinely from the age of 14, before joining the army.
Sadly, the track hero did not demonstrate great staying power, and in subsequent years, his performance dwindled before he dropped off completely – thanks to lack of institutional support and monitoring.
He died on 10th March, 2003, a forlorn figure, hardly recognised by the nurses at the Kenyatta National Hospital.
He was 57.
Yet, Temu’s enduring legacy of what determination and hard work can achieve shall never be surpassed, even with the passage of time.