Ask me of a Kenyan hero and I will shout, Philip Boit! His story has not been easy but he has managed to prove critics wrong, who said Kenyans can’t ski? He had his family stopped at Amsterdam though they managed to make it to Oslo to see him participate as he ends his skiing career. Whatever happened at Amsterdam!!
As if that is not enough, last weekend he was out with his family in the evening and as they headed back to the hotel someone had sneaked into his room, his computer and his wife’s wallet were missing, a matter he says he has already reported to the police.
World Ski Championships
“You are in Norway and you have to do what Norwegians are doing. We are all watching the World Ski Championships being held in Oslo. And for you as a Kenyan I think that is something, Philip Boit is participating.” Said Marita Sørbø.
I think this far we are in agreement that Kenyans will always get an ‘A’ for initiative. Yes, they try to and when they try then they make it, whether big or small the fact remains they tried. Philip Boit is one such man. I am so proud of this Kenyan, you can be sure I had never heard about him before until my boss asked me about him “Do you know a Kenyan by the name Philip Boit? He is such a famous name internationally for a number of reasons.”
Then he explains to me who Philip is. “He made history by being the first Kenyan winter games athlete but finished at the 92 position and last in the 10-kilometer classic race in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. The most touching experience about his participation in the Olympics is the fact that Gold medalist Bjørn Dæhlie of Norway delayed his medal ceremony as he waited for Boit to greet him with a hug. Most people were touched and so was Boit himself.”
Three weeks back in one of the TV talk shows (Skavlan) on Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, NRK 1, Philip was here accompanied by Dæhlie and I just liked him. (The show is hosted by a very handsome and popular Norwegian and I am told it is named after him and is rated as one of the most prestigious shows in both Norway and Sweden.) Full of zeal, Boit was in Norway ready to participate in the 2011 World Winter Championship.
“When I landed in Kenya after Nagano, I was a hero already, all the media people were there, dignitaries waiting for me with convoy of vehicles and one thing they all asked me is about the man waiting for me at the finishing line, and I told them, that was the gold medalist. Together with my family we agreed, we had to honour this man in a great way. It was a moving moment for me to be waited for20 minutes by a champion, it is a great honour and he is my mentor.” said Boit during the interview amidst applause from the audience.
“During the race, it was extremely difficult, raining and there he was with really bad skies and when he came to the finish line, I saw him and really he wanted to say congratulations. The whole cross-country fraternity recognizes him as a hero, trying to become a cross-country skier which is difficult enough if you are from Norway or Sweden. We recognize him as a role model trying to ski for 15 years now, this experience is special enough especially because he comes from Kenya” said Dæhlie during the interview.
“ My wife was pregnant when I returned, we were having a discussion and I told her, I think you are carrying a baby boy and if he is a boy, we will name him after Bjørn Dæhlie.” He said amidst great applause from the audience.
“True to my prediction, my wife gave birth to a baby boy. However, Kenyans wouldn’t pronounce Bjørn right, so I named him Dæhlie Boit. My sponsors are working to see that my family will be here so you can be assured that Dæhlie will also be here, he is now a big boy now,” he said. I wonder how he writes his name since the alphabetical letters in Kenya do not have the ø and æ.
As I write, Boit is with his family in Norway and of course Norway’s Dæhlie has a chance to see his namesake. In Kenya, we never have snow except at the mountain tops, so where did this Kenyan get the urge to participate in skiing and how does he do cross-country training in Kenya?
Training in Kenya
“I train by running polls or roller skating but since I do it besides the road sometimes I have been accused of making drivers cause accidents because they tend to keep watching what I do, so I was advised not to do it on the highway. In Kenya they always ask me how can they get these special sticks? And others think I am blind because I always use black sun glasses and they always ask, can you see that blind guy, how does he run with those polls?” he said as the audience laughed.
The interview couldn’t come to an end without Dæhlie reminding Boit of this incident. He said Biot had just come from Nairobi with temperatures above 25 degrees and they were at Grønland participating in Arctic Circle race, 50km for three days.
“We were standing at the starting line and it was -25 degrees, extremely windy and I was feeling so sorry for you. When we started, you only went for 300 meters and you went back to the hotel and you never came out for three days. Actually being in Grønland skiing for 300 meters, that is very impressive,” said Dæhlie. I laughed and so did the audience.
Philip Boit and his fellow Kenyan Henry Bitok were trained in Finland to become competitive skiers. Though they were middle distance runners, both had no experience in skiing at all. Nike, the sportswear giant sponsored the project. Nike dropped their sponsorship after the 1999 Nordic World Championships, but Boit continued to compete. Talk of determination, he continued to do dry training for two years in Kenya and qualified for the 2002 Salt Lake Games where he finished 64th in the print race in front of three other competitors.
My congratulations are in order for Kenyas’ Philip Boit, great initiative you have. Be assured truly Kenyan Patience is watching you and is very proud of you. Go go go Boit! “You know what we say in Norway, it is not very important if we win, but, if only we beat the Sweds. We do not give them a chance to win over us,” said a Norwegian friend. Ha ha haha!!
Enjoy your week ahead.