What you need to know:
- The legendary middle distance runner, won the country her first medal at the Summer Games in the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, a bronze in 800 metres, setting the stage for the current crop of athletes.
Kenya's first ever Olympic Games medallist, Wilson Kiprugut Chumo, died on Tuesday aged 84.
The legendary middle distance runner won the country her first medal at the Summer Games at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, a bronze in 800 metres, setting the stage for the current crop of athletes to pan more medals.
Chumo started his athletics career at Kaptebeswet Primary School and Sitotwet Intermediate School in Kericho County.
Athletics Kenya President Jack Tuwei confirmed on Wednesday that Kiprugut collapsed in his Kericho home at about midday on Tuesday and was rushed to Kericho’s Siloam Hospital where he passed on shortly afterwards.
“This is a huge loss to the country and to the sport of athletics,” Tuwei told Nation Sport.
“Kiprugut’s medal from the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo is an extremely precious medal as it was Kenya’s first ever at the Olympic Games and inspired more athletes who were to follow to shine on the Olympic stage.
“We at Athletics Kenya join his family in mourning a great legend and hero of our nation and will accord the family all the support they need.
“I have already informed the Sports Cabinet Secretary of the development and we shall stand with the family as a nation. We shall offer further details in due course,” Tuwei added.
Kuprugut made history by becoming the first Africa to win an Olympic medal when he settled for bronze in 800m at the 1964 Tokyo Summer Games.
The late Peter Snell from New Zealand won gold in an Olympic record time of 1:45.1 with Canadian William Crothers going for silver in 1:45.6.
Kiprugut beat Jamaican George Kerr, who tried to elbow him for bronze in a photo-finish time of 1:45.9.
Kiprugut remembered the nostalgic moments when Nation Sports, who accompanied Athletics Kenya President Tuwei, National Olympic Committee of Kenya secretary general, Francis Muruku and by then the Ministry of Sports Chief of Staff, Rose Wachuka, visited the legend on June 5, last year.
“I was brought from the plane carried shoulder high by the Asian dominated national hockey team that had finished sixth overall,” said Kiprugut, who went on to win 880 yards bronze at the 1966 Kingston Commonwealth Games.
“God was with me.”
Kiprugut took his time to pray and wish Team Kenya best of luck at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
“Go out and conquer…believe in your ability and you will succeed,” said Kiprugut.
Kenya went on to claim 10 medals from the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games; four gold, four silver and two bronze for their total haul of 113 medals - 35 gold, 42 silver and 36 bronze - since Kiprugut’s enviable performance in 1964 Tokyo.
Kiprugut embraced athletics as a schoolboy and it didn’t take long before participating in his maiden event at the 1958 East African championships.
It’s at the regional event that his talent was evident and it didn't take long before Kenya Defence Forces fished him out to their ranks.
He would make his international debut at the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games where he didn’t go past the heats of the 440 yards and finished fifth in the 4x440 yards relay, alongside Kimaru Songok, Peter Francis, and Seraphino Antao.
It’s at the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics where he would make history, getting bronze in 800 metres before reaching the quarter-finals of the 400 metres.