Little-known Meru athletes who made history in Olympics

Whenever Meru County is mentioned, most people relate the region with its famous Miraa crop whereas when great sportsmen and women are mentioned, people think of Rift-valley.

Despite this, we cannot run away from the fact that Meru County has been on the frontline of the Counties producing the best World athletes. However, their fame has always faded in the hands of athletes from the Rift-Valley region.

Rift-Valley has always been widely recognized for producing world champions in athletics with people relating this success to climatic conditions and topography of the region.  In spite of this, people keen on athletics will tell you that Meru County has also produced the best athletes but little is known about them.

Meru boasts of various world medal-winning athletes who started their athletics or trained in the County, a state various experts now relate to the terrain of the region.

“Meru has a climate and a terrain suitable for training and racing,” Former athletics Kenya treasurer and Mt. Kenya Running Championship Meru chairman, Joseph Kinyua says.

Among the most famous world athletes that have a background in Meru and or ever trained in region is;


Stephen Kiogora, alias “baba” is a long-distance runner born and raised in Meru County. Mr. Kiogora started his athletics career in Meru. His ability was realized in1996 when he won the African Championship in the 10,000Metres race.

Four years later Kiogora won Kenyan Armed Forces Half Marathon.

Mr Kiogora made his first international marathon race debut in 2003 at Cologne where he took the third position behind Benjamin Rotich with a time of 2:12:29.

He later took part in a major marathon event in 2004 in Boston as a pacemaker for his training partner Timothy Cherigat. Kiogora completed his pacing duty taking fourth place and helping Cherigat to victory.  He has also been able to finish in the top three at Boston, New York, and Frankfurt marathons. His personal best finishing time for the distance is 2:08:24 hours (set in 2008) in the Frankfurt Marathon.

Kiogora won his first race at Las Vegas Marathon in 2005 with a run of 2:11:58hours before later competing in San Diego in 2006 where he won himself a medal after attaining the third position. In the same year, he also contested in the New York City Marathon where he took second place in the marathon. However, his dreams to fly the Meru flag high in Dusseldorf were cut short after sustaining an injury in 2011.

Douglas Wakiihuri

Mr Wakiihuri is a Kenyan veteran long-distance runner who made history by becoming the first Kenyan to win a gold medal in 1987 in a World Championship in Athletics in Rome. No other Kenyan won the world championship in the marathon until 2007.

Wakiihuri held the record for 20 years until 2007 when Luke Kibet became the second Kenyan to win a gold medal at World Championships

 It Should however be noted that Wakiihuri realized his potential in athletics while schooling at CCM Township primary in Meru County.

Wakiihuri, who was famous for wearing white gloves during races also won the London marathon in 1989 and the New-York marathon in 1990.

In 2018 he was appointed a member of the Meru County Sports Committee, a committee dedicated to raising the standards of sports in Meru County.

However, upon retirement, Wakiihuri ventured into helping disadvantaged children in Kibera where he trains and mentors them. 

He has established the Kibera running club as well as a nursery and primary school creating opportunities for children through sports. 

He is also a running coach to Kenya’s First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta, training her for her Beyond Zero marathons. 

Last year, the 58-year-old was honoured with the highest honour in Japan by His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, Naruhito. He was awarded ‘The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays’.

Wakiihuri was feted in recognition for his many years of contribution to the development and promotion of the bilateral relationship between Kenya and Japan in the sporting and cultural fields.

In December 2021, Wakiihuri was awarded the ‘Order of the Golden Warrior’ by President Uhuru Kenyatta.


Mwobi who hails from Meru is a three-time Hong Kong City Marathon Champion.

The 43-years old is also a former Kuala Lumpur Marathon Champion.

High levels of humidity and a difficult course makes finishing times in Hong Kong Marathon comparatively slower than other Marathons in the world, however, this did not deter the Meru athlete from setting a new record in Hong Kong Marathon in 2009 with a run of 2:14:57hours.

In 2010 Mwobi made history again by becoming the first man to defend his title in Hong Kong.

Mwobi has been instrumental in changing the attitude of young Meru athletes towards joining world class marathoners

The Meru Sports Council Chief Joseph Kinyua says that Kiogora’s achievement stands out as a pillar of hope to many upcoming athletes from Meru.


Meru county self-praises itself for this athlete who has her roots in Meru. Karimi proved that Meru had talents after showing her rivals a clean pair of heels in closing kilometers to take a lead victory in 2:24:46 hours in the Volkswagen Prague Marathon.

Karimi also holds a season-best (Personal Best) of 2:25:17hours in a 16.1KM road race at NN Rotterdam Marathoner where he took the third position.


Riungu proved that the Meru County terrain made a powerful and strong athlete by competing in the 9th Glacier 3000 Mountain Run in the year 2016 in north-western Montana, on the Canada-United States border. This included a distance of 26 km and an altitude gain of 1’900 meters from the Gstaad Promenade through Gsteig and up into the harsh glacial landscape. Despite the unpleasant terrain, the Meru-born son overcame the steep moraine between Cabane and the glacier to become a clear winner.

In 2017 Riungu participated in one of the most marvelous mountain scenery race at the Jungfrau marathon where he managed fourth place. Jungfrau Mountain marathon is one of the best mountain marathon races in the world where more than 35 nations participate in the 42KM race.


Munanu is an elite athlete hailing from Meru County. She was the 2011 Africa Country silver medallist.

She was also the champion in Alsterlauf Hamburg 10km race and Pfixx solar Montferland 15km women race in 10th September 2017 and 3rd December consecutively.


Kathambi is a sand racing celebrated champion. Despite having roots in Meru (a landlocked region) she had all it takes to challenge for a title in beach races.

The athlete started his career in Meru County as a local athlete before athletics Kenya realized her potential. Kathambi is celebrated for her 2014 racing title at the sands of Agon, Coutainville in France.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button