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Living in the shadow of a famous father

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Keino Sports Marketing Managing Director Martin Keino on December 14, 2012. Photo/DIANA NGILA

Keino Sports Marketing Managing Director Martin Keino on December 14, 2012. Photo/DIANA NGILA  Nation Media Group

By JACKSON BIKO

Posted  Thursday, December 27   2012 at  14:49

In Summary

MARTIN KEINO, MD, KEINO SPORTS MARKETING

Age: 40

Education

  • (High School) Fork Union Military Academy, Virginia
  • University of Arizona, BA Design

Career

  • Pacesetter: 1985 to 1995
  • Host: Setting the Pace”- Zulu Sport
  • Motivational Speaker
  • Board member FAFA
  • Director - Youth Fund

In the long and short distance track races, there is a runner whose job isn’t to finish the race. His job is to lead and ensure athletes run at an acceptable speed, and time, if they are to break a record.

This athlete is a called a pacesetter, or a ‘rabbit.’ Martin Keino (son of two-time Olympic Gold winner Kipchoge Keino) was a professional ‘rabbit’ for over 10 years helping various marathoners achieve seven world records during his career. He paced for renowned athletes like Kenenisa Bekele, Daniel Komen and Haile Gebrselassie.

Now he runs a small sports marketing firm that does sports event management, sports personality management and marketing, sports PR and Tourism, rights and endorsement management and lifestyle management. On top of that, he hosts a television show, writes a weekly sports column and sits at the head of the table of the Youth Fund. In short? A man burning the candle from both ends.

I know you are your own man, but you realise you’re still Kipchoge Keino’s son, and as such, I have to drag the mzee’s name into this interview, is that cool?

(Laughs) Oh no, that’s cool. I expected it anyway.

I’m sure doors have opened for you by the mere mention of your dad’s name, but have some doors also slammed in your face because of his name?

I wouldn’t say doors have been slammed on that account, however, the downside of being my dad’s son is that people expected more from me, they expected me to succeed as he did. So there was always pressure to live up to his name. But he always told me to take things at my own pace.

Did having his last name compel you to go into athletics?

Well, I think my decision was more of a product of my childhood and socialisation. There was a lot of sports influences around me growing up, so running came naturally, I guess. But also back to that question, when I went to the US to school, I was expected to win races given my nationality, tribe and last name, the pressure to win races was more there.

What’s the best piece of advice your dad has ever given you?

Wow, they are numerous! (Thinks). I guess it’s to “be who you are, and do the best you can in whatever you decide to do.”

OK, one last daddy question, I promise. How dissimilar are you from your dad?

(Laughs then thinks hard) That’s a tough question. (More thinking) I don’t know, really. (Thinks) Hmmm. I guess he’s sterner than I am. I’m more laidback.

Why do our athletes insist on speaking English during after-race interviews when they obviously struggle with it? Why can’t they just speak in Kalenjin, or whatever, and let the organisers get someone to translate what the champ is saying?

(Laughs hard) You’re right and this is something I have suggested in numerous seminars. Other guys - Russians, Ethiopians, Ukrainians, and Chinese - speak their language during interviews and this is something that our athletes should adopt too. I always say it brings out more from the interview when they speak the language they are comfortable in. It’s hard enough handling a microphone in your face when you’re fluent in English.

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