EMBU (Kenya): The world’s top long distance runners regard Kenya’s John Ngugi with awe even fear.

But the Olympic champion favorite to win the world cross-country crown for the fourth consecutive time in Norway does not overrate his ability. He attributes his success to God.

‘Asked about his chances of winning at Stavanger, Ngugi, a devout Roman Catholic, replied: “That is for God to determine. He is the one who gives and decides.”

Because of his religious convictions, Ngugui does not train on ‘Sundays. But he will race if the competition is serious enough and ‘Stavanger is in that category.

He was the third of six children born into a family of peasant farmers in Kenya’s central Muranga district, 80 kms north of Nairobi.

I started running when I was a young boy at primary school. later took part in the district’s athletics meetings, where winners were given utensils such as plates, cups and blankets as prizes, I used to win all the races,” he said.

After leaving school, Ngugi worked on a neighbor’s farm, planting potatoes.

“Despite the hard work on the farm, I decided to compete in provincial meetings until 1985, when I was recruited into the army,” he said,

Local people never used to take Ngugu’s running seriously and they laughed at his awkward, loping style,

“I could not do my normal training around home. Maybe it’s how I ‘un, but women used to scream at me when they saw me on road. They thought I was a madman.”

Even the army had its doubts when Ngugu applied to join up. The fellow looked like a weakling, not the material soldiers are made of, so ‘we took him on as civilian staff,” his recruiting officer recalled,

“Ngugui has improved a great deal since he won the first world championships in world tampons in Switzerland in 1986,” coach Mike Kosaeisai 8.

Article extracted from this publication >>  March 31, 1989