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From House Help to World Champion: Kenyan Athlete Bags Bronze For Israel

by Robert Mwangi
2 mins read

The story of Lorna Chemtai is intriguing and inspiring.

Born in West Pokot County, Chemtai flew to Israel in 2008 as a nanny for a diplomat then in the Kenyan embassy.

What she did not know is that her career as a runner would be shaped in Israel.

During this year’s World Athletics Championships in Oregon, United States, Chemtai won a bronze medal for Israel in the women’s marathon.

But Israeli sports coach Dan Salpeter takes a lot of credit in her success.

The two met in 2011 when Dan was working at a school in Tel Aviv.

He became her coach and before they knew it, they were deeply in love.

When her contract ended, she returned home but kept in touch with Dan.

They later solemnised their union in Kenya, but settled in Israel.

In 2016, she received widespread media coverage in Israel after it emerged that she had been denied Israeli nationality.

At the time, Israel’s Olympic committee was preparing a list of athletes to represent the country in the Rio Olympic games.

Since Chemtai had not been granted citizenship, she was on the verge of being left out, triggering outrage among stakeholders in the sports sector.

The Israeli Government bowed to pressure and granted her full citizenship and from then, she became a proud ambassador of her new home away from home.

Dan and Chemtai have a son.

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