Kiprugut's death re-ignites calls for state to honour athletes

Kipchoge Keino

Legendary athletes Kipchoge Keino (left) and Wilson Kiprugut during the National Olympics Committee of Kenya Gala hosted by Tusker at Eka Hotel in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County on October 6, 2021.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Hundreds of villagers throng Kericho homestead to condole with legend’s family
  • Stakeholders call on new CS, government, to ensure the needs of all sportspeople in Kenya are addressed

The death of Kenya’s first Olympic medalist Wilson Kiprugut Chumo has re-ignited calls for the country to celebrate its athletes while they are alive.

Various stakeholders have called on the government, and especially the new Cabinet Secretary for Sports Ababu Namwamba, to ensure that needs of all sportspeople in Kenya are addressed to help cement patriotism.

They said it was time the government came up with a solid policy and programme to adequately cater for sportsmen and women so as to nurture talent, create employment opportunities and ensure Kenya earns more foreign exchange from sports.

Chumo, who died on Tuesday afternoon, will be buried on Friday next week next to where his wife, Ruth, was laid to rest after she died on July 20, 2020, according to family members.

Fundraiser to defray expenses

Gideon Kipngeno, Kiprugut’s last born son, and Sarah Langat, the first born daughter, confirmed to Nation Sport that a fundraiser to defray expenses has been set for Tuesday next week ahead of the burial three days later.

Despite his historic achievements, it is only a letter of appreciation from Athletics Kenya (formerly Kenya Amateur Athletics Association) and photographs showing him in action that take the pride of place in the sitting room of his two-bedroom house that sits on a four-acre piece of land at Kipchebor village in Kericho County.

“Athletes deserve to be recognised and feted by the government for the sacrifice they have made, the discipline exhibited and going ahead to beat competitors from other countries who are better appreciated and remunerated, by their respective governments,” Chumo told Nation Sport in an interview in 2021 before the Tokyo Olympics.

“Chumo's death is an indictment that Kenya has neglected her heroes, but in contrast, those in power are quick to fete socialites, politicians and busybodies. This must change,” Malel Langat, a Kenya National Union of Teachers National Executive Council member said.

John Kimetto, an Athletics Kenya official, said the government should channel resources towards sports and ensure the country’s lost glory in the international arena is regained.

On Thursday, hundreds of villagers thronged the homestead to condole with the family, but government officials and politicians did not show up.