Honesdale, PA/ Dyberry Township — Four athletes from Cameroon in West Africa are being hosted by the Himalayan Institute from April 15 to 24. The athletes will run as part of the Elite Group in the Boston Marathon on April 21–the first time athletes from Cameroon will compete in the prestigious Marathon. The athletes from the Milano Kumbo Sports Academy in Kumbo, Cameroon have been training at the Institute’s main campus and surrounding roads in Dyberry Township after arriving from Cameroon on Tuesday.
Three men and one woman qualified for the Boston Marathon when they placed in the Big D Texas and Dallas White Rock marathons. The Institute sponsored two of the champion athletes in the Dallas White Rock Marathon in December. The Cameroon delegation includes Mr. Roland Kiven Mbenkum, Executive President, Milano Kumbo Sports Academy, Mr. Jean Claude Kammogne, National Coach for long distance and mountain races, and the team physician, Mr. Amougou Oyono. Institute representatives will accompany the delegation to Boston on April 19. The champion athletes running in the Boston Marathon are:
Mr. Januarius Bongkiyung (age 35): Took 1st place in the Big D Texas Marathon in April 2007 qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Took 1st place in 2006 and 2007 and 2nd place in 2008 in the Mt. Cameroon Race in the male group.
Miss Immaculate Wirngo (age 23): Took 5th place in the Big D Texas Marathon in April 2007 qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Took 1st place in the Mt. Cameroon Race in 2005 and 2006 in the female group.
Mr. Eric Mangeh Mbacah (age 24): Took 14th place in the Dallas White Rock Marathon in December 2007 qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Took 1st place in the 26 mile Njalla Quan Race in Cameroon.
Mr. Justilin Foimi (age 23): Took 40th place in the Dallas White Rock Marathon In December 2007 qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Took 2nd place in the Mount Cameroon relay team in 2007, and is the 10,000 meter Champion in Cameroon.
The Milano Kumbo Sports Academy is a leader in community sports and youth programs in Cameroon. The Academy was conceived and founded by Mbenkum, who is also President of the Kumbo High Court. Mbenkum had a vision to serve the community and underprivileged children by offering a constructive and empowering alternative to the petty crime and
unrest he observed in his judicial practice. “In the High Court, you see kids going to jail for small things…the Academy gives them a chance to use their natural talents to do big things. You can see that they want to do something” said
Mbenkum. “The runners have accomplished so much on their own, running Cameroon has lost its challenge for them. International races are the next step. With a lot of willpower and contributions from many directions, what seemed very far away is now very close as we head for Boston.” The Academy’s motto is “Helping young people to realize that sports can give them a future by helping to build self-esteem and community.” Operated entirely by volunteer support, the Academy specializes in running. Many of the children in Academy programs are displaced and orphaned, and have been adopted by Mr. Mbenkum and his family. They have taken them into their home to offer them a safe and healthy environment and education as they continue their training. Many have gone on to win races around the world.
“Our runners have excellent endurance” as evidenced by their wins in the 39 km international Mt. Cameroon “Race of Hope” (Elevation 14,000 ft.) “and other mountain races,” said national coach Kammogne. Athlete Mbacah expressed the sentiments of his fellow runners: “We’re extremely happy to realize our dream to take part in an international competition like the Boston Marathon, and meeting athletes from Kenya and other countries….we’re not afraid of anything.”
The delegation will return to Honesdale from Boston on April 22 for a few days of rest before returning to Cameroon.
For further reading, check out the article from AllAfrica.com!