Prominent Kenyan athletics coach John Velzian, who laid the groundwork for national success in athletics at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games, died Thursday in Nairobi at the age of 93.
Kenyan athletics president Jack Tuwei has paid tribute to Velzian, the country’s first post-independence athletics coach, who helped establish the profession of two Olympic gold medalists in the 1500 and 3000 meters steeplechase Kipchoge Keino and Wilson Kiprugut in Sports of the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“I don’t think anyone in our current environment can match their contributions to athletic development in our country and in Africa,” Tuwei said.
A British-born Velzian remained in Kenya after independence in 1963 and was employed as a sports educator to improve his physical education curriculum in a rapidly growing school system.
“I first met him in 1962 when he was coaching Nyeri. He was very careful in his training under the old British system and helped me become the best athlete in the world,” Keino said in an interview with AFP on Thursday.
After retiring as national head coach at the 1968 Mexico Games, Velzian remained involved in the development of Kenyan athletics, including organizing the 2007 World Athletics Championships and was nominated by World Athletics to lead the Development Center. East and Central Africa Region in Nairobi. .
World Athletes presented Velzian with the Coach Lifetime Achievement Award in November 2011.
“In our lives, there have been a few special people like John Velzian,” World Athletics said in a statement.
“He was a man with whom we felt a sense of belonging, and although he has now left, we feel his presence throughout our region, his passion for ensuring athletic development is promoted in every member state in our region and the development base of African athletics in the country. English-speaking. “