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Friends and Competitors

by Eddie Rayner

The Elite performance programme run by Innoventures Education at Raffles International School (RIS) attracted leading Kenyan athletes Kiprono Koskei, 2015 African Games Gold Medal winner for the 4×4 Relay, and Wiseman Were, 2019 National Champion.

Both athletes were in Dubai to take advantage of the city’s coaching and training facilities, as well as to conduct sports sessions with students from Innoventures Education schools.

At RIS, the two sprinters gave a talk to the sports scholars about five key points: Focus, Discipline, Determination, Respect, and a Healthy Lifestyle. They reminded the students that in both athletics and team sports, it is always important to look at what you can control with your own capabilities when it comes to training and advancing your skills.

Once they had finished the talk, Kiprono and Wiseman sat down with the social media team at Education UAE to discuss their careers.

Know where you are coming from and where you are going to.

Kiprono Koskei

When did they know they wanted to be athletes?

Kiprono and Wiseman both had a passion for athletics from primary school, playing games during playtime and their P.E. sessions. Kiprono, however, began his training in Class 8 (at the age of 14) and has since continued to national level. Wiseman started at the age of 18 and in three years, by the age of 21, became the National Champion.

Who did they look up to while training?

Both sprinters mentioned during their talk that their biggest inspirations were themselves, always motivated and inspired by their own achievements and growth – showing how self-confidence as an athlete or sportsman plays a big role in skill development. Kiprono had also mentioned how he had grown up by the Great Rift Valley, where many African and international athletes go to train due to its optimal environment and training camps. Here, he had never had to look up to any specific athlete, as everyone was a sprinter, always training. Kiprono had always run because he enjoyed it, never expecting it to take him to international events.

My biggest inspiration is myself.

Wiseman Were and Kiprono Koskei

Which competition has stood out to them the most?

For Kiprono it was the 2015 African Games, where he won the Gold in the 4×4 Relay. Wisemans most memorable would be the 2019 African National Championships, as it led to him becoming the National Champion.

Was there ever a moment they had doubted themselves, and how was this overcome?

During the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Kiprono was third in his league yet still wasn’t chosen to represent Kenya, demotivating him. However, he had been training since 2010 and was not going to let that go! His measured approach paid off during the 2015 African Games, proving that ‘Winners Never Quit and Quitters Never Win’. Wiseman, on the other hand, felt demotivated through his family, who, whilst being happy for his achievements, were always worried his wins and successes were not bringing in anything but a title. Being an athlete in Kenya is not a well-paid career path. Kiprono, however, had always seen something in the young Wiseman and took him under his wing, encouraging him and training with him.

Breathe in, Breathe out

Kiprono focuses on his breathing during races to stay calm.

What is it like for two competitors to live together and train together?

Kiprono and Wiseman share an extremely wholesome view on this situation. They say that while they are competitors, they train together and can witness each other beat their own personal bests, which rather than being seen as a threat is instead seen as motivation to push themselves further. Ultimately, they see each their success as a personal achievement, not one that should get in the way of the other doing well too. They always wish each other the best and further improvement. Kiprono strongly believed in Wiseman as an athlete, which is why he reached out to him and moved Wiseman in with his own family.