Promising Kenyan athletes who lost their lives at the prime of their careers

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Since attaining its independence in Kenya has been known as an athletics powerhouse, over the years producing the best athletes who have gained global recognition among them the likes of Kipchoge keino, Catherine Dereba and other legends in the long and short distance races.

However kenya has had its fair share of athletes who have had their lives cut short at their prime robbing the world of legends in the making.

The latest being the world fastest marathoner 24 year old Kevin Kiptum how died days after his world record was ratified by the World Athletics. we highlight the biggest losses for Kenya in the last 15 years.

Kenyan athletes whose lives were cut short in their prime

We start the list with Samuel Wanjiru born November 1986 , Wanjiru died on May 11 2015 at the age of 24 years after he was suspected to have been pushed over the balcony of his house in Nyahururu after he had a few drinks.

Born to a single mother, Hannah, Wanjiru was raised by a grandfather at Ol-Ojorok where he grew up herding cattle and goats.

He excelled in school sports and caught the eye of veteran athletics coach Robert Kioni, who took Wanjiru to Nyahururu to train.

Wanjiru will be remembered as the first Kenyan athlete to win a gold medal at the 2008 marathon at the Beijing Olympics in a record time of 2:06:32.

Samuel Wanjiru was the first Kenyan to win the Olympic gold in the marathon in 2008 Beijing Olympics Marathon in an Olympic record time of 2:06:32. [photo: Creator: JENS BUETTNER]

On August 8th 2018, Kenya woke up to the devastating news of death of 400m hurdles World Champion (2015) Nicholas Bett at the age of 26 year old.

Bett the first Kenyan to win a short-distance gold medal on the world perished after his car rammed onto unmarked multiple road bumps along Kapsabet-Ainabkoi Highway.

[2018, Nicholas Bett’s damaged Toyota Prado. Photo:KBC]

According to Nandi Police Commander Patrick Wambani hit a bump before losing control near Lessos along Eldoret-Kapsabet road.

He was travelling from Nairobi after participating in the just-concluded African Athletics Championships in Nigeria.

BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 25: Nicholas Bett of Kenya reacts after winning gold in the Men’s 400 metres hurdles final during day four of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 25, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Next on the list is Agnes Jebet Tiprop, a Kenyan professional long-distance runner.

Agnes Tirop was found dead at her home in Iten, Elgeyo-Marakwet County, on 13 October 2021; she had multiple stab wounds in the neck and abdomen.

Authorities believe a domestic altercation occurred and Tirop was stabbed, as they also found her car windows had been shattered.

Tirop won bronze medals in the 10,000 metres at the 2017 and 2019 World Athletics Championships. At the 2015 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, she became the second-youngest-ever gold medallist in the women’s race, after Zola Budd she died at the Age of 25 years old.

Agnes Tirop representing Kenya in Doha

ALSO READ: Witness unearths infidelity claims in Agnes Tirop’s murder case

On Sunday 11 february 2024 the World was shocked to learn of the death of World marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum who died in a grisly road accident.

Kiptum died alongside his coach Gervais Hakizimana, a Rwandan national, along Eldoret-Kaptagat road, as confirmed by family and traffic base commandant Dennis Muga.

Kiptum dies just days after World Athletics ratified his record of 2:00:35 – a record he set at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 8, 2023.

The 24-year-old chalked 34 seconds off the previous record of 2:01:09 set by his compatriot Eliud Kipchoge on September 25, 2022, in Berlin.

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