Bungei opens up on alcoholism struggles at AK conference

Bungei opens up on alcoholism struggles at AK conference

Former 800m Olympic champion Wilfred Bungei has admitted to battling with alcoholism as he struggled to come to terms his post-retirement identity.

The 38-year-old said quitting the sport left a vacuum that he subsequently filled by drinking as he struggled with the lack of routine that comes with the life of an ex-athlete.

The former World silver medallist was addressing fellow retired and active athletes at the inaugural Athletics Kenya (AK) conference in Nairobi where the three-day event kicked off on Thursday.

“Initially, it was just drinking in small quantities but with time I grew to it and finally it became a routine for me,” Bungei said.

Bungei recalled the fateful date of May 15, 2011 when he was first hospitalised for drinking too much alcohol, the same day for Olympic marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru was pronounced dead.

It is at that point in time that Bungei’s life took a new twist as he reveals.

“On that day I had drank a whole litre of Vodka which I later found myself lying in a hospital bed in Kapsabet.  However, when I heard that Wanjiru had passed on that touched me because I felt what Wanjiru went through was meant for me,” Bungei said.

Bungei would thereafter meet a counsellor who realised he had a problem and would subsequently enroll in a  rehabilitation centre for six months which proved to be his turning point as he left alcoholism in 2012.

“After all the struggles I can now say that I have seven years and 77 days without tasting alcohol,” said Bungei.

Being a member of the Alcoholic Anonymous (AA), Bungei said he decided to share his story in order to save others who are languishing in the same path he went through.

“I am available to help anyone to remove the alcoholism disease which majority of us suffer in silence,” said Bungei.

Aside from his challenges, Bungei has urged active athletes to shun from doping and embrace clean sport in order to safeguard the image of Kenya.

“We understand that we are currently on war against doping. We can be able to end this if we come together because doping is a choice,” Bungei noted.