Double gold Olympian Kip Keino from Kenya said he was very impressed with the quality of sporting facilities in Tullamore on his visit to the town on Thursday, May 24.
The now 72 year old, former policeman and member of the Kenyan Olympic Council was hosted by Offaly Sports Partnership, and took lunch with representatives of Offaly county Council, Tullamore Town Council, Tullamore Harriers and An Garda Síochána.
Following lunch, investment made by the Tullamore Town Council in swimming, lawn bowls and the skate park were outlined to Mr. Keino. He was then taken to Tullamore Harriers to view the fine facilities on offer there, and meet with members of the club.
Long serving members of the Tullamore Harriers, Mick Hayden, presented Mr Keino with the club’s colours, while Mr Keino reciprocated by giving Mick a tie of the Kenyan Olympic Council. When Keino last raced in Ireland in the late 60s/early 70s, it was on a cinder track in Santry. It was explained to Mr Keino that the first synthetic track to be built in Ireland was in Belfield in University College Dublin.
That track was primarily built with government funding and no longer exists but the track built in Tullamore Harriers is the product of its members’ commitment and effort to raising funds for its development and maintenance.
Following his visit to Tullamore, Mr Keino went to Dublin as a guest of honour for the Africa Day Athletics event in Santry.
Thirteen children, primarily of an immigrant background from a cross county programme of Offaly and Laois Sports Partnerships attended this event. Mr Keino complemented the work of the Partnerships and said that he feels some of the children on the cross county programme will likely compete for Ireland in the future.
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