A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than him/herself. We also think a hero is a man who gives up gold, silver, bronze, a whole lot of money and world-wide recognition for being top in an international 10 kilometre marathon, just to save a competitor who collapsed in the midst of the race. This is the reality of Simon Cheprot from Kenya, Africa.
In the last round of splinting at the IAAF Silver Label Okpekpe International 10k, held in Nigeria, Simon was faced with a situation his conscience couldn’t ignore.
Simon had won the race back in 2016 and had come second in 2018. With God’s grace, he was expected to finish first this year. Well, this was until he noticed his fellow Kenyan competitor Kenneth Kipkemoi had collapsed just a few metres to the finish line.
Simon showcased his true sportsmanship when he stopped running and lifted Kenneth back to his feet, dragging him all the way past the finish line awaiting paramedics. Other runners might have taken home the gold, but nothing can beat this selfless act.
“Cheprot was men’s title winner in 2016 and was first runner up in the 2018 edition, his ambition being to become first participant to scoop two titles since its inception in 2013.” said event promoter Mike Itemuagbor.
“Simon may not have fulfilled his ambition of becoming the first athlete to win two Okpekpe titles since 2013 when we began this race but he came to Okpekpe this year, ran and left as the hero. He did not win any medals but he won hearts.”
“This is what is called sportsmanship. Simon gave proper consideration for fairness, ethics, respect, and a sense of fellowship with his competitors. He is our hero, he is the hero of the seventh edition of the race,” Itemuagbor added.
Impressed by Simon’s actions, local politicians and government officials rewarded him with over $15,000 for his genuine act of kindness. A humble Simon told the press that in his mind, there was no doubt he wanted to help Kenneth.
“My dad told me one day: ‘When you’re walking and you meet a sick person on the road, help him. Do not leave him,’ so that was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw my friend on the ground,” he explained. “Running is not war; running brings peace, unity, and friendship.”
Indeed all of us are heroes of our own stories, it is in how we run the race.