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Kipchoge to receive Freedom of Bristol City

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NAIROBI, Kenya, June 19- Retired double Olympics champion and distance running legend, Dr. Kipchoge Keino, will add another feather in his decorated cap when he is be awarded the freedom of the UK city of Bristol on July 5.

The Olympics gold winner from Mexico 68 (men 1500m) and Munich 72 (men 3000m steeplechase) is thus set to become the second recipient of the high honour after equally legendary former British Prime Minister, the late Sir Winston Churchill.

“Kip will be given freedom of the city of Bristol and Team Kenya will need to be there to support its chairman in ensuring he receives this prestigious gift.

“It is an honour to this country, an honour to the Olympics Committee and honour to Kip as a person,” Stephen Arap Soi, the overall Team Leader for Kenya at the forthcoming London Olympics announced on Tuesday.

Kipchoge, who heads Kenya’s National Olympics Committee (NOC) is widely hailed as the father of the country’s athletics having chart the path that has established the nation as a force in distance running.

The former Kenya Police officer attached to the Presidential Escort Unit is also a reputed philanthropist, educationist and will return to be decorated in the city he has established a binding relationship having been awarded a honorary doctorate by the Bristol University in 2007.

Kipchoge will therefore, be decorated with the high honour that is bestowed by some municipalities in Australia, Canada, France, Gibraltar, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe to esteemed members of its community and to organisations often for service to the community.

The term applies to two separate honours, one civilian and one military.

In addition to the doctorate, Bristol also named a college stadium after him and it is this facility that Team Kenya will wind down their preparations for London before they leave for the Olympics Village on July 16.

“The advantage we have in using the facilities at Kip Keino Stadium in Bristol is that the track is similar to that that will be used at London Olympics Stadium.

“The pool also constructed there will benefit our swimmers since it is of the standard they will find at the competition,” Soi explained.

The only members of the projected 48-strong Kenyan Olympics squad who will not be at the Bristol camp is lone boxer, Ben Gicharu as well as long distance runners in 5000m, 10000m and marathon.

Gicharu will instead travel to the Welsh city of Cardiff where he will join other boxers in a pre-Olympics event in addition to specialised training programme organised by Association of International Amateur Boxers with NOC including two local coaches in the event.

According to NOC, all athletes in steeplechase, 1500m, 800m, 400m, relays and Julius Yego, the Javelin men thrower will depart for Bristol on July 3.

Distance track runners in 5000m and 10000m will leave on July 22 with female marathoners (August 5) and male ultimate distance athletes (August 7) completing the departure schedule with the entire team expected back home on August 15.

Meanwhile, integrated communications services firm, Safaricom, will award all London Olympics gold winners, Sh1m ($11,765) each for victory with silver and bronze winners taking Sh600,000 ($7.059) and Sh300,000 ($3,529).

This is an improvement for the sum offered for the last edition in Beijing that stood at Sh750,000 ($8,824), Sh500,000 ($5,882) and Sh250,000 (Sh2,941) for the corresponding podium places where Safaricom matched what the Government offered at the time.

Monetary reward was cited as one of the motivation for the country’s athletes to return Kenya’s best Olympics medal haul of six gold, four silver and four bronze, a harvest the class of London 2012 is aiming to surpass.

The company is expected to make its formal announcement next week with the State expected to unveil their package for London to coincide with the handing over of the flag.

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