, 17 December, 2019 / 2:58 AM
Kenyan-born Catholic-raised Eliud Kipchoge who became the first ever world marathoner to run the 42-km race in less than two hours was Sunday, December 15 named the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) 2019.
The yearly activity normally conducted December awards non-British sports person identified to have significantly contributed to a sport within that year and whose achievements have captured the public's attention.
A staunch Catholic from Kenya’s Eldoret Diocese, the 35-year-old topped the online public poll, beating off competitors from South Africa, Australia and the United States of America (USA).
The weeklong voting overseen by an independent adjudicator officially commenced November 29 and was closed on December 6.
Asked in a video clip circulated in social media what it means to be the first man to break the two hour barrier, the marathon runner said, “It means that no human is limited; we need to actually remove out limitations in our minds be it in class, be it in our offices and life will continue.”
“It has been a long dream for every human in this world (and) it has been a narrative that until 2067 (is) when a human being will run under two-hours. I proved them wrong by running the two hours barrier in Vienna,” Mr. Kipchoge said referring to the October 12 event that got global attention.
The long distance runner has won other awards including honorary doctorate degree in science from a Kenya- based University of Laikipia, a doctorate degree of laws by the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom and the Elder of the Order of the Golden Heart of Kenya, a presidential award given to him by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta.
He has also won 12 of the 13 marathons, which he has participated in. He is set to take part in the 2020 London Marathon on April 26.
Many who have known Kipchoge from his humble background have attributed his multiple victories to prayer and Catholic faith, with the mother, Janeth Rotich waking up early to pray for him.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa