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4 Young Kenyan athletes who died unexpectedly

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Kelvin Kiptum
4 Young Kenyan athletes who died unexpectedly. Photo/ France 24.
  • From the likes of Samuel Wanjiru to Agnes Tirop there are several young Kenyan athletes who died unexpectedly
  • The latest case of a Kenyan athlete who has died while in their prime is that of Kelvin Kiptum
  • The death of Kiptum has cast a shadow over the athletics world as the marathon runner was just setting the stage for a remarkable career

From the likes of Samuel Wanjiru to Agnes Tirop and most recently Kelvin Kiptum, there are several Kenyan athletes who died unexpectedly. It’s not only Kenya that misses them but the whole world for they were prominent figures in athletics.

As the world is mourning the death of Kiptum, who died a few days ago, we have decided to remember other prominent runners who passed away while still capable of winning more medals. Without further ado, here are five Kenyan athletes who died unexpectedly:

1. Samuel Wanjiru – 24

Kenyan athletes who died unexpectedly

Samuel Wanjiru. Photo/ The Standard.

The death of Samuel Wanjiru left many shocked as his career was just starting to bloom when the sad news spread all over the world. Wanjiru won the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Chicago Marathon twice (2009, 2010), the London Marathon (2009) and also dominated the Fukuoka Marathon in 2007. All this he achieved while in his early 20s.

Samuel Wanjiru passed away on 15 May 2011 at the age of 24 in his home in Nyahururu. The circumstances surrounding his death were controversial, but he succumbed from injuries sustained when he fell from a balcony. Wanjiru’s mother said in a court that her son was murdered.

2. Nicholas Bett – 28

Nicholas Bett died in a road accident on 8 August 2018, just two days after returning from the African championships in Nigeria. He was 28 years old at the time of his death and his loss was deeply felt, not just for his achievements on the track but for the potential that would remain unfulfilled.

Bett had not only represented Kenya at the African Championships but also at Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games and World Championships. His victory at the 2015 World Championship was a landmark making him the first Kenyan to win a world title in 400m hurdles race.

Nicholas Bett

Nicholas Bett is one of the Kenyan athletes who died unexpectedly. Photo/ Sky News.

The accident that led to the demise of the celebrated athlete took place on a road near Lessos, Nandi County while he was driving to Nairobi. According to the official report by police, Bett lost control of his Toyota Prado SUV, which then hit a bump in the road and landed in a ditch, killing him on the spot. His demise left a void in the hearts of fans, fellow athletes and the world at large.

3. Agnes Tirop – 25

Next on the list of Kenyan athletes who died unexpectedly is Agnes Tirop. Tirop passed away on 13 October 2021, in her home in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet, a few days before her 26th birthday. She had multiple stab wounds in the neck and abdomen, and authorities were convinced that there was a domestic altercation that led to the stabbing as they also found her car windows had been shattered.

A search began for Tirop’s husband, Emmanuel Rotich, and he was arrested in Mombasa after being involved in an accident while trying to flee the country.

Before her death, Tirop had etched her name in the history books as one of the greatest female long-distance runners from Kenya. Over the course of her short glamorous career, she won numerous medals, including gold at the 2015 World Cross Country Championships and bronze in the 10,000m race at the 2017 and 2019 World Athletics Championships.

Agnes Tirop

Agnes Tirop. Photo/ Sky Sports.

4. Kelvin Kiptum – 24

The sudden death of world-record holder Kelvin Kiptum has cast a shadow over the athletics world as the marathon runner was just setting the stage for a remarkable career. He came to the marathon realm with a bang, having made his full debut just two years ago at the Valencia Marathon, where he posted the fastest time for a debutant.

Kiptum then proceeded to the 2023 London Marathon where he recorded the now third fastest time before completely wiping out Eliud Kipchoge‘s world record time in Chicago. He was ready to face off with Kipchoge in Paris this year.

Kiptum passed away on 11 February at 11 pm in a road traffic accident near Kaptagat. His coach Gervais Hakizimana also lost his life in the accident.

Abraham Odhiambo is an avid sports fan who loves to write about football, boxing and wrestling. He's a big supporter of Manchester United. He's pursuing a bachelor's degree in Communication and Media at Egerton University.

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