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Legendary athlete Kip Keino goes extra mile for Kenyan youth

From David McKenzie, CNN
December 13, 2011 -- Updated 1758 GMT (0158 HKT)
Kip Keino stretches his legs at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. Kip Keino stretches his legs at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kipchoge 'Kip' Keino is a Kenyan athlete who won gold at the 1968 and 72 Olympics.
  • His success saw him become a hero for people in Kenya and all over the African continent.
  • Keino now spends most of his time invested in his philanthropic projects.

(CNN) -- It was during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City that Kipchoge Keino announced his arrival on the world stage.

The Kenyan athlete was one of the stars of the games as he cruised to victory in the final of the 1,500 Meters, crushing the favorite and then world record holder, America's Jim Ryun, in the process.

"The third lap I took off and opened a gap - the final lap I was forty meters ahead and they only close to twenty meters," he says of his now legendary victory.

Keino's Olympic success saw him become a household name across the globe and a hero to people all over Africa.

In a glittering career that followed, Keino won 3,000 meter gold in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany, as well as three gold medals in the Commonwealth Games.

Olympic champion turns teacher

He was also the first African to run a mile in under four minutes and hold the world records for both the 3,000 and 5,000 meter events.

But with his track career now well and truly behind him, the 71 year old now spends his time focusing on his other passions -- namely philanthropy and encouraging Africa's next generation of star athletes.

Training the next Kenyan champion

Shaped by his own experiences as a young child, Keino decided to open an orphanage in Eldoret, Kenya in 1973.

Olympian Kipchoge Keino's orphanage

"My mother died when I was young - 3 years old," he says. "I could feel a pinch and a heart for somebody who doesn't have parents, so I started the children[s] home."

The project was small to begin with but soon expanded to encompass a primary school, a secondary school.

Then in 2007, Keino opened an elite sporting academy with the aim of encouraging talented young Kenyan athletes to reach their full potential.

With a lifetime of wisdom and success and behind him, Keino says he hopes his projects will enable him to pass on his experiences to the next generation of Kenyans.

Most important of all however, he explains that he hopes to give those in his schools love and confidence, whilst instilling them with a sense of respect for themselves.

"Taking care of those people to be good members of society, to be able to do something, to be able to have a better life like any other children with their parents" is what is most vital, he says.

Eoghan Macguire contributed to this story

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