World Athletics mourns Kenyan legendary runner

Benjamin Kogo.

Benjamin Kogo.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • Relieving the scintillating and golden moments, World Athletics said that Kogo had led the field during the early stages of that tactical 1968 final and was joined by the USA’s George Young at the bell.
  • "Kogo was ahead off the final water jump but as he powered away, his lesser-known compatriot Biwott stormed past to take the title," said World Athletics.

World Athletics has paid tribute to the late 1968 Olympic 3,000m steeplechase silver medallist Benjamin Kogo and the late veteran athletics coach and administrator John Velzian.

World Athletics indicated that they are deeply saddened by the demise of Kogo, who died last Thursday at the age of 77.

Kogo, who was born on November 30, 1944 in Arwos, Nandi County, had been diagnosed with prostate cancer one year prior to his death.

Velzian passed on on Thursday aged 93 at MP Shah Hospital while receiving treatment from a fall at his house in Nairobi.

The global athletics governing body indicated in a statement that Kogo’s achievements sparked the start of Kenya’s great success in the steeplechase, as he became the first athlete to contest the event for his country at the Olympics when racing at the 1964 Games in Tokyo.

"There, he finished fifth in his heat in 8:51.0," said the statement.

Four years later, the statement explained that Kogo progressed to not only make the final, but reach the podium.

"With a time of 8:51.56, Kogo secured silver behind his compatriot Amos Biwott and Kenyan athletes would go on to win 10 of the following 13 Olympic men’s finals in the discipline," noted World Athletics.

Relieving the scintillating and golden moments, World Athletics said that Kogo had led the field during the early stages of that tactical 1968 final and was joined by the USA’s George Young at the bell.

"Kogo was ahead off the final water jump but as he powered away, his lesser-known compatriot Biwott stormed past to take the title," said World Athletics.

As well as his Olympic silver medal, World Athletics noted that Kogo won gold at the inaugural African Games in 1965 and claimed bronze at the 1966 Commonwealth Games. His PB of 8:31.6 was set in Paris in 1967.

Kogo retired in 1972 after a hip injury meant he was unable to qualify for that year’s Olympics.

Velzian, who received a World Athletics Coaching Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, passed on at MP Shah Hospital where he was receiving treatment after he fell in his bedroom at Church Road, Westlands.

World Athletics noted that Velzian, a former coach and administrator, dedicated his life to the sport.

"Velzian, who was British but made his life in Kenya, had a huge impact during his 60-year career in athletics, particularly in Africa," said World Athletics.

After becoming a physical education officer for Kenya in 1958, he remained following the country’s independence in 1963 to develop the nation’s athletics talent, particularly in long distance running.

It was around that period that he discovered and began working with athletes such as the great Kip Keino, who would go on to win Olympic titles at the 1968 and 1972 Games.

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