Kenyan Olympic legend and double gold medal winner Kip Keino has urged Bristol businesses to help build strong links with the East African country as part of the legacy of the London 2012 Games.
Mr Keino, chairman of Kenya’s National Olympics Committee, is in Bristol as part of the 40-strong team of athletes and officials using the city as their training base for the Olympics.
Speaking last night to a group of business leaders, Kenyan dignitaries and members of Bristol’s Kenyan community, Mr Keino said the Olympics was a great example of how nations, cities and individuals could work together to build a better world.
“Sport is the best way to promote peace and unity among people across the world,” he said.
“We want to build a strong country in Kenya like you have here. We want to learn from you and the 2012 Olympics can help by bringing people together.”
Mr Keino – a national hero in Kenya ever since he won gold for the 1,500m in the 1968 Mexico City Games and for the 3,000m steeplechase in Munich four years later – spoke about his early life as an orphan and how he used to run to and from school despite often only having one meal a day.
A year after retiring from athletics he opened his own orphanage, then a junior school for the children and later a high school. Some of the children have since gone on to become doctors and lawyers, he said.
The reception, staged by Bristol law firm Osborne Clarke and accountants Smith & Williamson, took place shortly after Mr Keino received the Freedom of the City of Bristol from the Lord Mayor at a ceremony at the Council House.
“I would like to thank the city of Bristol for this,” he said. “But it’s not for me – it’s for Kenya.”
The event, hosted by Osborne Clarke at its Temple Quay offices, also heard from Brand Kenya chief executive Mary Kimonye, who spoke about the business opportunities in the country – especially in technology and innovation.
Smith & Williamson partner Dave Mouncey said: “We have been working closely with Umoja, The Bristol Kenya Partnership for some time and we have now arrived at the crucial point in the project. The arrival of the Kenyan Olympic team is a vital moment in building the educational, cultural and business links between Bristol and Kenya. Our job now is to continue to do all we can to support and nurture this on-going relationship in order to maximise the legacy potential.”
The Kenya Olympic squad visit has been arranged by the Bristol-Kenya Partnership with support from UWE, University of Bristol, WISE SGS, Bristol City Council and others.