NAIROBI, August 8 – Former world indoor 800 meters champion Wilfred Bungei has called on Kenyans to support the team in the Olympic Games in Beijing, China reminding them that ‘we are a family.’
Bungei, who is also the Kenya Olympics team captain, said he is optimistic that the Kenyan contingent to the global sporting contest will scoop more medals than in Athens, Greece four years ago.
This is the last Olympics for the Kapsabet-born athlete, who catapulted himself and the country to fame in 1998 when he clinched the IAAF World Junior Championships in Annecy, France as a teenager.
He did this in a time of one minute, 47.53 seconds.
An emotional Bungei spoke the honour bestowed on him to lead the country’s Olympians and enthused that the men and women had trained well.
“I am delighted by the morale of the team and the training we have done. This is for both athletics and other disciplines. I’m confident that our performance will be much better this time round,” said Bungei.
He was speaking when he received a cheque of Sh3.3 million from Samsung Electronics. The money is a part of the funds the electronics company was giving to the Olympics team as sponsorship.
At the event, Samsung Marketing Manager for East and Central Africa Gloria Anampiu said the company was delighted to be a sponsor of the team and wished sportsmen luck in the games.
“We will continue to support our gallant sportsmen and women whenever we can because this is a part of Kenya’s culture and a source of pride,” he said.
Asked what he would do after the Olympics, the 28-year-old quipped: “I will cross the bridge when I get there. It’s not long from there anyway.”
Twelve years ago in Moscow, Russia Bungei finally ascended the medals podium to receive gold for Kenya at the IAAF World Indoor Championships. The personal best of 1:42.34 was attained in Rieti, Italy in September 2002.
In March this year however, he pulled out of the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Valencia at the last minute after suffering from a thigh-muscle injury.
Other than Bungei, other athletes who will represent Kenya in the 800 metres race include Boaz Kiplagat Lalang and Alfred Kirwa Yego.