Jan. 3, 2012
Wesley Maiyo will be a name forever etched in Wyoming track and field history, as the first Cowboy to win an individual NCAA title. A native of Kenya, he won the 1,000-yard dash in 1974 and still holds several UW school records. WyomingAthletics.com sat down with Maiyo for a "Where Are They Now" during his inducted into the UW Athletics Hall of Fame this fall.
Give us some background on your life after you left UW.
After I left Wyoming, I went to the University of Florida and was on the track & field team from 1977-78. After my years at Florida, I took some time off from running until 1980 when I ran in the Gasparilla Distance Classic and won the 5,000 kilometer race with a time of 11:55, which was said to be the world record at the time. The day after the race they contacted me with some bad news, saying I did not break the world record because the course was about 200 yards shorter than the previous record holder's course. I still have that record with an asterisk next to it to this day.
What are some of your highlights while you ran for the Cowboys?
The biggest highlight I had while I was there was winning the NCAA National Championship in the 1,000 meters with a time of 2:07, which tied the NCAA record at the time.
Being from Kenya, what brought you to Laramie?
That is a question that I get asked all the time. I had four other universities I could have gone to but I chose Wyoming because it reminded me of home with the mountains and hills when they showed me summer time pictures. I always say they tricked me when they showed me those pictures because when I got here in January, all I could see was snow. At that point, I said I was going back because the weather was too cold for me.
Do you still follow and keep up with the sport of track & field?
I still keep up with track & field, in fact I am writing a book on it. I am still involved with coaching in Florida as well. I try and keep up with the current techniques of running, because when I was at Wyoming I was not a real strong runner but I had great technique.
It feels good, but sometimes you think tomorrow somebody is going to break it. About four months ago the University of Florida called me and told me that someone had broken my record after 35 years. It is sad, but you have to have a good feeling that someone is doing better than you did and that's a part of sports.
Do you miss being a student-athlete?
I miss a lot about it. I was a tough competitor. I have two personalities actually, when I am on the streets I have a different mentality than when I am on the track. When I ran I had what they call "killer instinct." I always thought if you were within ten yards of where I was, I was going to beat you and run you into the ground. That made a lot of people afraid of me.
After two successful years at Wyoming you transferred to Florida, what was that transition like?
The weather made it easy. I am much more used to the weather in Florida than I was to the weather in Wyoming. But I missed Wyoming, my wife is from Cheyenne and she came with me this weekend and we are happy to be back in Laramie.
Tell us about your career.
I retired in South Florida after working in Information Technology, but after I retired I felt like I still had a lot to give to the society. I wanted to work with kids so I started working for the City of Tampa's Department of Parks and Recreation in 1981 and hopefully I will retire next year after 30 years.
You are in Laramie for the Hall of Fame activities this weekend, what are you most looking forward to?
I am looking forward to meeting the other athletes. I know who they are but I don't know what they look like so I am anxious to see them. We are members of this certain club, and we will forever be members of the club.
What does it mean to you to be inducted into the UW Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame?
I feel like 100 years from now somebody might look back and say I know somebody who ran for the University of Wyoming, and they might want to go back and look to see what I did to achieve what I achieved. Maybe that will help them achieve what I did as a Hall of Famer.
Is there any advice you would like to give to the UW Track & Field team?
Train hard, be honest to yourself, be honest to your coach, and listen to him or her because they will always give you good advice.
Where Are They Now Archives
July 12, 2011 - Brian Lee (Football)
July 22, 2011 - Laura Mengelkamp (Women's Golf)
Aug. 5, 2011 - Nichole Rider (Women's Basketball)
Aug. 25, 2011 - Lynn Stetson (Swimming & Diving)
Sept. 14, 2011 - Shauna Smith (Track & Field)
Sept. 29, 2011 - Mike Amundson (Men's Basketball)
Nov. 1, 2011 - Mercy Adetoye (Women's Soccer)
Nov. 30, 2011 - Scott Usher (Swimming & Diving)