Selfie requests aplenty, for I am a Kenyan

 

Gold medallist China's Ding Xia (left) poses for a selfie on the podium after the women's Gold Medal volleyball match at Maracanazinho Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 20, 2016, at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. PHOTO | AFP

Gold medallist China’s Ding Xia (left) poses for a selfie on the podium after the women’s Gold Medal volleyball match at Maracanazinho Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 20, 2016, at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. PHOTO | AFP

 

By Roy Gachuhi

 

To the samba rhythms of Brazil, a country no other in the world can teach how to make the best party, to the most spectacular light and colour show ever staged in the fabled Maracana Stadium, and to the gold medal of Eliud Kipchoge, Kenya’s winner of the men’s marathon race, the Olympic Games of Rio de Janeiro ended.

 

“Brazil has heart,” I remarked to a Canadian friend I had made acquaintances with. One of his companions leapt up and gave me a hug. “You could not have said it better.” Everybody agreed.

 

After filing my penultimate Rio Chronicle, and still reeling from the nightlong party celebrating Brazil’s men’s football gold medal, I headed early to Botafogo beach.

 

It was my fortune that the Olympic marathon was being held on the course where I walk to go to swim, Flamengo beach, Urca beach or Botafogo beach.

 

Organisers obviously selected this course to show the world the incredible beauty of the land and seascape. The views can kill you.

 

Botafogo was the furthest turn of the course and many people gathered there. When the leading group of runners came, with our Kenyans prominently among them, I started shouting: “Kenya! Kenya! Kenya!” The name resonated. When they were gone, people requested a selfie with me.

 

Some asked whether, as a Kenyan, I am a long distance runner. Since am not sure, I neither confirmed nor denied.

 

I watched the runners at four different points but it was just after kilometre 27 that I will remember for the rest of my life. It was at Flamengo Park. I was leaning on the spectator barriers.

 

The leading athletes turned the corner. All three were shoulder to shoulder. Who were they? Wesley Korir, Stanley Biwott and Eliud Kipchoge. Kipchoge was so close to the barrier that if I stretched my arm, I would have obstructed him. They whizzed past.

 

I turned to the sea and faced Sugar Loaf Mountain. I punched the air and yelled: “This race is ours!” I started walking to Flamengo beach, all the while tracking the race on line. I was right.

 

TOUCHING OLYMPIC CHAMPION

 

The race was ours! To restrain myself from touching the Olympic champion on his way to victory, in the anonymity of a crowd, filled me with a sublime feeling. Nobody noticed that I had used my handkerchief.

 

********

 

With the ending of the Olympic Games, my Chronicles from Rio also come to an end. With full satisfaction, I now take leave of you, esteemed reader of Nation Sport. It’s been a pleasure covering the Games from outside the competition venues.

 

It was a remarkable experience, putting my finger on the heart of the Olympic city and listening to the uneven beat of its pulse: the carefree happiness of samba and the despair of brutal eviction.

 

I want to thank my hosts here in Rio, Agencia Publica, who sponsored my scholarship. I want to thank my colleagues at the Nation, specifically Sports Editor Allan Buluku and his team for holding their end of the line. I also want to thank Nation Sport readers. From me here in Rio de Janeiro, its goodbye.

 

With a special mention to all those who took time to write to me via email and WhatsApp, I tried my best, in tight circumstances, to reply to each one of them but if any mail slipped through my fingers, I apologise.

 

Thank you all, once again. From me here in Rio de Janeiro, its goodbye.

 

gachuhiroy@gmail.com