Kenyan Athletics Family Reels From Tragic Deaths

The deaths of top runners Agnes Jebet Tirop and Hosea Mwok Macharinyang in a span of days have left Kenya and the entire world athletics family in shock.

Former World Cross Country Championships queen Jebet, who recently shattered the 10-kilometre world record, was found lifeless at her home in Iten on Wednesday with stab wounds.

She missed the medal bracket narrowly in the 5,000 metres at the Tokyo Olympics three months ago.

Her death came just days after cross-country and 10,000m specialist Macharinyang was found hanging by a rope at the family’s home in Murkwijit, West Pokot County, on Saturday.

Macharinyang did not leave a suicide note.

Other athletes who have died in recent years under tragic circumstances are Kenya’s first 400m hurdles world champion Nicholas Bett and first Olympic marathon gold medalist Samuel Wanjiru.

Wanjiru’s death on May 15, 2011, left many shocked.

He died at a tender age of 25 with many promising years ahead of him. Wanjiru had shown he was destined for great things after bagging the Olympic marathon title.

Fall from a balcony

He was the youngest marathon winner at the Olympics since 1932. The former two-time Chicago Marathon champion and 2009 London Marathon winner died after an alleged fall from a balcony at his home in Nyahururu following a domestic dispute.

An inquest to establish whether the former three-time world half marathon record holder jumped to death or was murdered found that he was hit by a blunt object. Bett, on his part, died after his car plunged in a ditch near Lessos in Nandi County on August 8, 2018.

The accident happened two days after arriving in the country from the 2018 Africa Senior Athletics championship in Asaba, Nigeria.

He won the 400m hurdles gold at the 2015 World Athletics championship in China after clocking 47.79, the fastest time the whole of that year in his specialty.

Kenneth Muriithi Njiru, who also represented Kenya in Asaba in 2018 but in 3,000m steeplechase, suffered the same fate after his vehicle got involved in an accident along Nyeri-Nyahururu road.

Other athletes who have perished in recent times include middle distance runner David Lelei and Jefferson Siekei.

Lelei died in February, 2010, after his vehicle collided with a truck along Nairobi-Nakuru highway. He was in the same car as former world 10,000m champion and two-time Boston Marathon winner, Moses Tanui who survived the accident.

Siekei died in Nyamira County in February 2009 after a motorcycle he was riding on collided head-on with a truck. In August this year, Youth Olympics gold medalist Gilbert Soet Kwemoi died after a short illness.

Renowned Kenya Defense Forces coach Benjamin Mbusia says the latest two cases of deaths show that Kenya has reached a breaking point.

“The death of Tirop has caught us off guard and we are devastated as a country. We need to do something as a government and Athletics Kenya. “What will help us get out of this is to work as a team. AK need to have a counselling department, coaches should volunteer to counsel athletes and we need prayers because many of the athletes are going through hell.

“Some athletes’ families are fighting over where to invest. We need strong counselling departments where athletes can confide in order for us to solve the problems they are going through,” said Mbusia.


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Author : Nation

Publish date : 2021-10-14 04:41:30

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