Tegla Loroupe is a Kenyan marathon and half-marathon runner who has achieved much during her active sports career as well as after it. She is a three time World Half-Marathon Champion, has held the world marathon record and still holds the world records for 20, 25 and 30 kilometres. She is also the founder of Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation, which promotes peace building, human rights and socio-economic development of underprivileged people in Northern Kenya and the Horn of Africa region.
In the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Loroupe led a team of refugees, which comprised of 10 athletes from Syria, Congo, Ethiopia and South Sudan. For this contribution, she was honoured as the 2016 UN Person of the Year in Kenya in October 2016.
In 2014, Loroupe was awarded with the Philanthropy in Sports award, which is given annually at Suomen Urheilugaala, the Finnish Sports Gala that recognises the best athletes each year. The Philanthropy award was donated by Wärtsilä and given in cooperation with the Finnish non-governmental organisation Crisis Management Initiative (CMI). The 10,000-dollar award was used to fund supplies for a school in Kenya. Since then, the school has made a difference in the lives of many children.
“Some of the students are orphans, and we have built a dormitory for them. The award money donated by Wärtsilä was used in acquiring basic supplies to the dormitory. In spring 2016, the first 18 students passed their final exams and are now studying in High Schools around Kenya. Their future looks much brighter now than it would without education,” Loroupe says.
Racing for peace
The Tegla Loroupe Peace Academy Center in Eastern Kenya is a school for orphans and children from poor families, who would otherwise not have the resources to get an education. The more than 300 children attending the school are encouraged to learn, but also to run and play sports. The academy hosts an annual ‘peace race’, which brings together the eight tribes in the area for an amicable sports event.
“The Tegla Loroupe Peace Academy has over 800 pupils today. The school provides boarding facilities, nutritious food and sports opportunities among other things to ensure children selected from cattle rustling prone areas of northern Kenya, Eastern Uganda and South Sudan receive quality education and become future leaders and ambassadors of peace in their communities,” Loroupe says.
For Wärtsilä, community involvement is a natural and integral part of the company’s operations. Support for local communities includes making sure employees are motivated, healthy and safe, but Wärtsilä’s sustainability approach extends beyond its immediate environment, to the stability and well-being of the entire region.
“Urheilugaala has cooperated successfully with Wärtsilä for many years, and the Philanthropy in Sports award highlights well the multifaceted significance of monetary awards of this kind. The recipients of the award have often succeeded in remedying important social issues – just like Tegla Loroupe and her foundation in Kenya,” says Riia Martinoja, Secretary General of Suomen Urheilugaala.
Marathon champion Tegla Loroupe has found that sports can be a means of improving the lives of people around the world.