The Star (Kenya)
Taekwondo Olympian Wamwiri eulogised as a tough opponent
Died on Sunday morning after collapsing in his house in Waithaka area, Nairobi
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.