The Star (Kenya)

Taek­wondo Olympian Wamwiri eu­lo­gised as a tough op­po­nent

Died on Sun­day morn­ing af­ter col­laps­ing in his house in Waithaka area, Nairobi

- OMONDI ONYATTA Sports · Olympic Games · Martial Arts · Kenya · Beijing · Nairobi · Kikuyu · Kiambu · Uganda · Africa · Abuja · Nigeria · Algeria · Maputo · Mozambique · Championship · Taekwondo · Algiers · Limuru

Dickson Wamwiri’s sport­ing ri­vals and team­mates re­mem­ber him as a tough com­peti­tor who would bat­tle to his last breath.

The grit and de­ter­mi­na­tion to edge out his op­po­nents were fu­elled by his pas­sion for taek­wondo that be­gan al­most two decades ago. Wamwiri, 35, the first male to rep­re­sent Kenya at the 2008 Olympics in Bei­jing, died on Thurs­day last week af­ter col­laps­ing at home in Waithaka, Nairobi.

Wamwiri has left be­hind a nineyear-old son, Ha­neem Wamwiri. His burial was sched­uled for Fri­day in Ondiri vil­lage, Kikuyu, Ki­ambu county.

“Hav­ing trained with him and from the same team, even though by then I was in Uganda, I felt like I’d qual­i­fied as an Olympian and an African cham­pion my­self. He brought us a lot of pride,” said Peter Ka­mau, his friend and for­mer train­ing part­ner. Wamwiri’s as­cen­dancy to the helm of taek­wondo in Kenya be­gan un­der the tute­lage of the late Ge­orge Mureu. Four years af­ter he be­gan his taek­wondo dis­ci­ple­ship un­der Mureu, Africa was in­tro­duced to the then 19-year-old af­ter he won sil­ver for Kenya in the fly­weight cat­e­gory at the 2003 All Africa Games in Abuja, Nige­ria.

He went one bet­ter by clinch­ing gold at 2007 All African Games in Al­giers, Al­ge­ria. Later in 2007, he won the Africa Taek­wondo Qual­i­fiers tour­na­ment, earn­ing him­self a berth at the 2008 Bei­jing Olympic Games and the pres­ti­gious ti­tle as the first male ath­lete in the coun­try to do so.

“I trained with him 12 years ago at Kasarani Gymnasium. When I was do­ing Tie Kun Ndo, we used to call him King of 360. He did us proud as Kenyans at the Olympics,” Mustafi Ibrahim re­called.

Al­though he lost at the pre­lim­i­nary round, the young man born and bred in Limuru — along­side Milka Akinyi, Kenya’s fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the games — had done more than enough to put Kenya on the map in­so­far as taek­wondo is con­cerned. Not sat­is­fied with merely mak­ing up the num­bers at the Bird’s Nest in Bei­jing, Wamwiri strove to per­fect his art and craft in taek­wondo upon re­turn­ing to Kenya.

His ef­forts earned him a sil­ver medal at 2011 All African Games in Ma­puto, Mozam­bique.other ad­di­tions to his medal col­lec­tion in­clude a sil­ver medal at the 2005 Korean Open and a first-place fin­ish at the 2009 Kenya Open Cham­pi­onship at Moi In­ter­na­tional Sports Cen­tre, Kasarani.

One qual­ity of Wamwiri that will re­main etched in the mind of his op­po­nents is his tenac­ity that made him a tough nut to crack. “To me, he was a wor­thy op­po­nent, he out­wit­ted me (and many oth­ers) in the ring and I ad­mired his fight­ing style,” Kinyan­jui Karanja said.

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