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INEOS boss Ratcliffe: You should be proud being Kenyan

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By ELIAS MAKORI
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Sir James Arthur Ratcliffe has told the Sunday Nation how he could hardly restrain his admiration for Eliud Kipchoge’s prowess after Saturday’s amazing run in which the Olympic champion clocked one hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds to become the first man to run the marathon in under two hours.

Sir Ratcliffe, Britain’s wealthiest person, according to the Sunday Times 2018 rich list, personally put the event together under his company INEOS which ended up being a marketing coup for the chemicals firm.

“The last half a kilometre when the pace car was gone and it was just Eliud, it didn’t look like his feet were touching the ground. He looked so calm and tranquil. My face would have been torture,” Ratcliffe said as he turned towards Kipchoge at the pre-event press conference at The Prater Park, venue of the historic run.

The billionaire, with an estimated fortune of $26.85 billion (Sh2.7 trillion) had dispatched one of his private jets, a Gulfstream G280, to pick up Eliud from the Eldoret International Airport and drop him in Vienna to ensure maximum comfort and less fatigue for the Olympic champion.

This is just one of four jets in the 66-year-old chemical engineering graduate’s hanger, the others being a similar model stream G280, a Gulfstream G550 and a Dassault Falcon 2000 EX.

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The cost of a Gulfstream G280 jet is estimated at $24.5 million (Sh2.4 billion) with a G550 going for $61.5 million (Sh6.1 billion).

Also in the collection is an AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter with the billionaire boasting 30 pilots at his beck and call.

Ratcliffe, a former employee of BP and Esso petroleum companies, also owns a 258-foot-long yacht, Hampshire II, valued at $100 million (Sh10 billion).

He recently shifted his base from France to the tax haven of Monaco, expecting to save $5 million (Sh500 million) annually in personal taxes.

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Nation at Prater Park on Saturday, Ratcliffe said Kenyans should be proud to have Eliud.

“It was sensational,” he said.

“I’m so pleased with Eliud. He always believed he could do it, but sometimes you never know until the day.

“It was a sensational result. In the last five metres when he came through to the finish line with that smile on his face, his fist in the air, he looked fabulous.”

Ratcliffe had initially planned to organise the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in England, but the inconvenience of blocking off an entire section of London or other major English city was a nightmare.

So he settled for Vienna, also after advise from scientists and other experts, and all along, he knew Kipchoge was the man for the task.

“He’s the finest distance runner the world has ever produced. A remarkable character and also a wonderful man,” Ratcliffe explained.

“What sets the humans apart from other species is the fact that we like challenges. Like we tried to break 10 seconds for 100 metres, we’ve tried to break two hours for a marathon, and that sets us apart as a species,” said Ratcliffe who recently wanted to buy English Premier League club Chelsea FC but had his offer turned down by the club’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

“This is one of those wonderful moments in history. No-one will ever do it again, to break the two hour for the first time.

“You should be very proud of Eliud and very proud being Kenyan,” added Ratcliffe.

INEOS, founded by Ratcliffe in 1998, produces chemicals and oil products used in the manufacture of goods.

The successful INEOS 1:59 Challenge went a great way in marketing the company’s global operations with observers saying Sir Jim had received a great return on his investment.

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