At the peak of his career, he was one of the most talented athletes; best remembered for breaking the World Junior 3,000m steeplechase record. But today, Raymond Yator lives a destitute life. His once superb sprint record now only works to his advantage whenever police r**d unlicensed, illicit alcohol dens.
“Whenever police r**d our village, I am always the last man to leave. I am very confident no policeman can catch me once I start running,” he says.
His younger brother, Robert Yator, blames wrong company for his brother’s predicament. “My brother came home with a good amount of money and he made a couple of investments but his peers introduced him to alcohol and this now has a firm grip on him. Steadily, he started abandoning his training and resorted to selling off his property to buy alcohol,” he recalls.
Yator’s lifestyle exemplifies the sad ‘riches-to-rags’ story that is common among former elite athletes. One that Antony Kiprono, Charles Kwambai and Peter Kosgei can easily relate to.
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Kiprono and Kwambai, made their name when they represented Kenya in the World Cross-Country Championships and won lucrative races abroad. Kosgei won the 2014 Standard Chartered Marathon. Today, Kiprono leads a shattered life as a single man – having separated from his wife 10 years ago.
“I do manual jobs here and there to earn Ksh200 or Ksh300 so I can buy a tin (one kilogramme) of maize and other household items. It is terrible, I tell you. Life has been very hard and I decided to drink alcohol to relieve the stress,” he says.
Life after running has also not been rosy for Kwambai who says an i****y ruled him out of competitions after a brief stint at the international level. “I stopped running after I got a hamstring i****y. I am, however, ready to stop drinking alcohol and train well if I get a sponsor,” says the father of six.
For Kosgei, who comes from Chemwabul village that’s home to world track stars, a********m is what put an end to his running career. “I made at least Ksh5 million in athletics. But I have nothing now except a half acre piece of land I bought in Kerio Valley. I think I need to get back to serious athletics to escape poverty,” says the man who now lives in a three roomed iron sheet-walled house in his parents’ farm.