What you need to know:
- Also at the airport were sprinters Maximilla Imali and Peter Mwai.
- Athletics Kenya National Police Service chairman Stephen Etiang, sports officer David Ngetich and Samson Katam were at the airport to receive the athletes.
She never knew what awaited her at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport upon arrival home.
As the rest of the passengers disembarked from the plane, Kenyan athletes were asked to remain behind.
They were puzzled but obeyed the instruction. After a long flight and a busy season, all the athletes yearned for was to reach home and rest. Period!
For those in the know, someone was supposed to deliver a precious parcel at the airport but had not arrived yet. And after what felt like a lifetime, the much-awaited parcel arrived.
The man at the centre of everything — Richard Lagat — tactfully hide himself behind a group of people who had turned up at the airport to welcome the athletes. His best friend, who had been tasked to deliver the precious parcel, handed it to him.
The Kenyan athletes were finally allowed to disembark from the plane.
Then Lagat went down on one knee, ring in hand.
The moment had arrived.
The excited crowd made way for world 800m champion Mary Moraa, who had no clue about what was going on. The air thick with suspense, Moraa came face to face with her fiance, Lagat.
He had a ring and a placard inscribed; “Will You Marry Me?”
She said yes! It was at 10.55pm on Tuesday night.
“Nothing can express what I am feeling now. It’s a wonderful night. Let those who had hopes know that the chapter is closed, “ said Moraa with a beaming smile, amid laughter from the bystanders.
Among the people who witnessed the joyous occasion at the airport were fellows athletes with whom she had travelled with from the 2023 Diamond League Final, the Prefontaine Classic which was held in Eugene, United States of America at the weekend.
“That was a big surprise...I thought it was the usual welcoming ceremony only to see him (the husband) on one knee proposing,” said Moraa.
Lagat, a former player of record men’s Kenya Volleyball Federation National League champions General Service Unit, is now a coach. He was delighted at how things fell in place.
“I met Moraa in 2021 during the National Police Service passing-out parade in Embakasi...It was love at first sight,” he said.
“I am happy she said yes! She is an amazing girl, easy to be around with, cheerful, humourous and a good dancer,” said the soft-spoken Lagat.
Lagat, who hails from Kapsabet in Nandi County, congratulated Moraa for her accomplishment this season. He said that she really worked hard for it.
“I have been a player and I know the challenges athletes go through quietly. We have been there to support each other,“ said Lagat.
He thanked her coach, Alex Sang, for his technical input and fatherly advice.
“It can only get better for Moraa,” said Lagat.
The 2022 Diamond League Trophy winner said that she almost withdrew from the two-day Prefontaine Classic that ended on Sunday after she fell sick upon her arrival in the US.
“I made a decision to compete because I don’t like the idea of failing to start the race,” she said.
She wound up fourth in the 800m final and former world champion, Athing Mu, whom she had dethroned at the Worlds in Hungary, Budapest last month, won the race.
Since Mu didn’t have the required points, world 800m silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson from Britain bagged the Diamond League Trophy after finishing second.
Moraa is now targeting the Olympic title in Paris next year. She is also considering taking a shot at the world record of 1:53.28 set by Jarmila Kratochvilova from Czech Republic in 1983.
The 3,000m steeplechase world record holder and silver medallist Beatrice Chepkoech, world 5,000m bronze medallist Beatrice Chebet, world 3,000m steeplechase bronze medallist Faith Cherotich and Commonwealth Games 3,000m steeplechase champion Jackline Chepkoech, sprinters Maximilla Imali and Peter Mwai witnessed her proposal.
Athletics Kenya National Police Service chairman Stephen Etiang, sports officer David Ng’etich and Samson Katam received the athletes.