Imagen
a blindfolded runner and his guide celebrate after crossing the finish line

Samwel Mushai Kimani

Athletics
3
1

Kenya’s Samwel Kimani made his senior debut back in 2007 but it is over the last two years that the Eldoret-based Para athlete has really come of age.

The visually impaired athlete, who lost his sight at age nine after an illness, took on both the 1,500m and 5,000m T11 at Rio 2016 – and returned home to Kenya with two gold medals.

He had previously won 1,500m T11 silver at Beijing 2008, which he improved to gold four years later at the London Paralympic Games in a world record 3:58:37, but achieving the double in Rio really set him apart from his rivals.

In the men’s 5,000m T11 – the first Para athletics medal of Rio 2016 - Kimani got the better of an elite field including Brazil’s seven-time world champion and home favourite Odair Santos, who led with two laps to go.

Tucked in behind Santos, Kimani made his move round the final bend and sprinted to the line in 15:16.11 – taking half a minute off his lifetime best and just five seconds shy of the world record set by his countryman Henry Wanyoike back in 2004.

Five days later he did it again, winning 1,500m T11 gold ahead of early leader Santos after a terrific sprint finish down the home straight.

Kimani maintained his grip over T11 distance running with two more gold medals at the London 2017 World Championships, biding his time near the rear of the pack in the 1,500m before taking to the front with 300m to go.

Victory in the 5,000m was even more clear cut. The Kenyan took to the front with more than six laps left; by the time he reached the line he was more than eight seconds ahead of second placed Cristian Valenzuela, Chile’s former Paralympic champion.

Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Vision impairment
Origin of Impairment
Acquired
Classification
T11, F11
Guide
James Boit

Further personal information

Languages
English, Swahili

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
He took up the sport in 2006.
Why this sport?
In 2003 he enrolled at St. Francis School for the Blind in West Pokot County in Kenya where he met fellow Kenyan visually impaired Para athlete Joseph Lomong. "I thought my world and sporting dream had ended when I turned blind but [Joseph] told me becoming blind wasn't the end of the world and that I should take up Para athletics, a sport which I had a lot of interest in. Also, when I joined school, I made some friends there who were running. They started telling me that you can make it if you train. I started training with them until I made it."

International debut

Year
2007
Competing for
Kenya
Location
Algeria

General interest

Hobbies
Travelling. (Athlete, 07 Nov 2019)
Memorable sporting achievement
Winning a gold medal in the T11 1500m at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. (Athlete, 07 Nov 2019)
Most influential person in career
Kenyan middle-distance runner David Rudisha. (Athlete, 07 Nov 2019)
Hero / Idol
Kenyan long-distance runners Eliud Kipchoge and Paul Tergat. (Athlete, 07 Nov 2019; michezoafrika.com, 18 Jan 2018)
Ambitions
To win gold in the T11 1500m and 5000m events at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (michezoafrika.com, 18 Jan 2018)
Impairment
He lost his vision in 2002 following an illness. (nation.co.ke, 04 Sep 2012)

Results

Unit Date Rank
Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games (Beijing, China)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 800 m T12 Heat 2 3
Men's 1500 m T11 Heat 3 1
Men's 1500 m T11 Final Round 2
2011 IPC Athletics World Championships (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 1500 m T11 Heat 2 2011-01-24 1
Men's 4x100 m T11-13 Heat 2 2011-01-24 9999
Men's 1500 m T11 Final 2011-01-25 2
Men's 800 m T11 Heat 1 2011-01-28 9999
London 2012 Paralympic Games (London, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 1500 m T11 Heat 1 2012-08-31 1
Men's 1500 m T11 Final Round 2012-09-03 1
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 5000 m T11 Final Round 2016-09-08 1
Men's 1500 m T11 Heat 2 2016-09-11 1
Men's 1500 m T11 Final Round 2016-09-13 1
World Para Athletics Championships London 2017 (London, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 5000 m T11 Final 1 2017-07-15 1
Men's 1500 m T11 Heat 2 2017-07-18 1
Men's 1500 m T11 Final 1 2017-07-21 1