Paralympian silver medalist Otieno finally honored by world beater Mbuva after a 23-year hiatus

By Ochiericks

A nagging right foot injury almost brought athletics career of former New England Road Race series ace Festus Kasyoka Mbuva to a halt in 1999.

The 2018 Black Excellence 5K runners up visited many hospitals but no doctor was able to treat the condition that was taking a toll on the runner, both physically and mentally.

The doctors suggested very costly operations and X-rays services that Mbuva, just a budding athlete then, was not able to foot their bills.

But as fate would have it, Mbuva mysteriously came across a ‘savior’ in the name of Alex Otieno, a powerlifting Paralympian, during one of his visits at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi to keep abreast with athletics, the sport which he dearly loved.

“I saw him (Mbuva), he looked like an athlete, but he was so quite. I approached him to enquire what the problem was.

“He told me about the niggling pain on his foot and how he was contemplating hanging his spikes.” recalls Otieno who suffered from Polio that left him crippled from childhood.

“I told him not to give up. I started working on his foot immediately. I massaged him for three consecutive days and on the fourth day he started walking properly,” the father of five told Standard Sports.

“I saw he was a desperate young man who had no money so I did not take the KSh50 which I was charging for the services offered,” said Otieno, 57, who is a physiotherapist by profession.

The healing that followed gave Mbuva a new lease of life. He became energetic, very inspired and motivated to carry on with athletics.

His desire to take his career to the next level saw Mbuva knocked the doors of American Embassy to search for a visa.

He was lucky to get the visa which granted him a chance to fly to the States in 2001.Upon reaching America, Mbuva realized he needed more than talent to stay afloat in the US.

He immediately enrolled in school, graduating with a philosophy degree at Dakota State University. He also pursued other academic honors in Social Work.

Mbuva is also a certified brain injury specialist as well as a licensed athletics coach, currently coaching budding middle school athletes in Lowell, Massachusetts where he resides.

On Wednesday this week, Mbuva who recently flew back to Kenya, decided to look and honour Otieno who helped him to overcome the irritating injury 23 years ago.

He gifted the Sydney 2000 Paralympic silver medalist with a brand new tricycle wheelchair and ensured Otieno got his KSh 50 back, with lots of profits.

“Otieno brought my fitness back. He saved my life. He literally gave me the ticket to America, without him I would not have set foot in the US,” Mbuva underlined.

“I learnt that his current wheelchair was old, so I brought him a new one just to say thank you for the kind deed on me,” Mbuva underscored.

Otieno, who bagged silver for Kenya in powerlifting (67.5kg) at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England said he felt loved and honored to have receive new bike.

“You know my bicycle is my leg, I can’t walk, it’s like I have been blessed with another pair of limbs. I feel totally renewed to do this job with passion,” the 1995 All Africa Games bronze medalist stated.

Among world beating athletes that have passed through the magic hands of Otieno include five times World Cross Country champion Paul Tergat, former Olympic women’s marathon silver medalist Catherine Ndereba, former world marathon champion Douglas Wakiihuri and former Harambee Stars aces McDonald Mariga and Dennis Oliech among others.

Mbuva will on July 30 preside over the second edition of Machakos Great Run at Thwake Resort in Koma before he flies back to Massachusetts.

The 40 year old is one of the founding directors of the race whose objectives are to showcase talents, give athletes a platform to jumpstart their career and grant the surrounding communities hope for a better life in the future.

“The first edition was well attended last year, we are confident the turn up for the race will be good despite the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games that will be ongoing during the competition,” Mbuva said.

Alex Otieno at a glance

Alex Otieno’s powerlifting achievements

1995: Bronze; All Africa Games, Tunisia.

2000: Silver; Sydney Paralympics in Australia.

2002: Silver; Manchester Commonwealth Games in England.

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