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Faces of Africa 11/25/2013 Legacy of a Taekwondo Master part II

11-25-2013 06:17 BJT

After George Muriu and his Taekwondo athletes returned home from Beijing, the future seemed bright. Although they had not won any medals, MilkahAkinyi and Dixon Wamwiri had put Kenya on the World Taekwondo map, and as their coach, George was determined to empower the pair to reach for medals at the next Olympics in 2012.

But it was not to happen.

After the Olympics, bitter Kenya Taekwondo Federation infighting left George Muriu jobless.

George Muriu at the Beijing Olympic Village in 2008. To this day he is the only
coach to have brought Kenyan Taekwondo athletes to the Olympics.

“People thought it was easy, that you could just take the players and qualify for the Olympics” says Major Sumba, a close friend and colleague of George’s. “We did not qualify again.”

After George was stripped of his position, his training program was dismantled, all recognition for his work on the part of the federation was taken away and the team performed “dismally” on the international scene. The row over management that had been confined to the upper echelons of the Federation spread to the athletes, and the atmosphere in the national team quickly deteriorated.

George fell ill. He went to his master and mentor, Grand Master Mog Yoon and told him he didn’t think he had very long left to live.

“At that time, we could see George was in pain”, Major Sumba recalls.

He died in 2012, shortly after entrusting his academy and students to his master, leaving them as well as his wife and three daughters behind.

“I remember I was going to practice when I heard on the radio that George Muriu had passed away” Milkah—one of the two Olympians to have made the trip to Beijing—recalls.

George and his wife pose for a photograph after renewing their marriage
vows after the Olympics.

With George no longer with them and the federation still embroiled in leadership disputes, it was left up to George’s former pupils and Grand Master Yoon to uphold George’s legacy by continuing his work. “He was like a son to me” says Grand Master Yoon, who supports George’s family financially by giving them part of the income generated by “Kenya Olympic”, George’s gymnasium. The rest of the income goes to athletes. “I pay the gymnasium rent myself” says the Grand Master.

George’s eldest daughter, Mary, feels it is her responsibility to carry her father’s dreams forward. “He wanted me to win an Olympic Gold Medal, so that’s what I’ll do.” She represents her father’s academy along with Milkah, and they have continued to be extremely successful in national competition.

George’s family and friends have even come together to organize an annual Master George Taekwondo Tournament to honor his memory and continue promoting Taekwondo in the country.

The people George Muriu inspired to take up Taekwondo and the athletes he empowered to reach the highest level in competition now strive to hold their own pupils to the standards George held them to; and his Olympic dreams are still being pursued by his daughter and students like Dixon Wamwiri, who has set his sights on the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Even after his passing, George continues to be a beacon for Kenyan Taekwondo practitioners through the most important of all the things he left behind: the legacy of a Kenyan Taekwondo Master.

Students of George Muriu bow down after a Taekwondo exhibition at his funeral in 2012.

Under Grand Master Mog Yoon’s supervision, George’s pupils are working hard to
uphold their mentor’s legacy by continuing to train Youngsters from a very
young Age youngsters from a very young age.

A moment of silence is observed by those in attendance at the first annual
Master George Taekwondo Tournament in August 2013, an event set up to honor
George Muriu’s contributions to Kenyan Taekwondo.

Editor:James |Source: CCTV.com

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