Agnes Tirop

Athletes, coaches and members of the public during a procession from Eldoret Hospital Mortuary in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County escorting the body of the late Agnes Tirop to Kapnyamisa Primary School in Nandi County for a funeral service on October 22, 2021.

| Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Kenya lost Tirop and a host of talented sports figures

What you need to know:

  • Task force to seek ways of addressing social challenges athletes face

Agnes Tirop's death marked one of the lowest moments of an action-packed sporting period in 2021.

The long distance runner, considered one of the most talented in the business, was on October 13 found murdered in her bedroom in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County.

She had not reached her prime when she met her death. The 25-year-old died two months after finishing fourth in the 5,000 metres final at the Tokyo Olympics and a month after smashing the world 10km record at a road race in Germany.

"Kenya has lost a jewel and one of the fastest rising giants," Athletics Kenya said in a statement.

Stunned, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered Police to hunt down the killers. And days later, sleuths tracked the slain athlete’s husband Ibrahim Rotich in Mombasa. As the key suspect, he was arrested and preferred murder charges preferred against him.

Death of the bronze medalist in the 10,000 metres race at the 2017 and 2019 World Athletics Championships shook the world leading to tributes trickling in from all over while the circumstances and investigations into her death dominated local and international media headlines.

Her send-off was graced by several international athletes and officials including Uganda's 5,000m Olympic champion Joshua Cheptegei who shared a condolence message from Uganda’s First Lady Janet Museveni.

Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has since established a task force to look into ways of addressing challenges that sportsmen and women face in their social life.
Besides Tirop, a number of active and former sportsmen, women and officials exited the scene.

These include Hosea Machariyang who represented Kenya in five cross country championships. He was found dead at his home in West Pokot County at around the same time Tirop passed on. Police announced they will investigate his death.

Another athlete namely Edith Muthoni died in Kerugoya in the same month after she was reportedly physically attacked by her boyfriend.

"She has been with the boyfriend for three years. The two fought over Nyamu's phone," Jane Nyawaira, the marathoner's sister told journalists.

Also found dead in his house in Nairobi was celebrated footballer Zablon Amanaka.

Amanaka, a former AFC Leopards, Sofapaka, and Harambee player had gone missing for some days before his body was discovered at a house where he stayed alone.

Doctors said the retired footballer, who'd also played professionally in Seychelles, India, and Bosnia, died of heart complications.

Another football legend namely Ronald Watsiera, who captained Tusker (then known as Kenya Breweries) to the 1989 title succumbed to edema-related complications at a Kakamega hospital aged 58. He was also part of the Harambee Stars squad that won the East and Central Senior Challenge Cup in 1983 and 1984.

Meanwhile, the volleyball fraternity was thrown into mourning when Kenya Forest Service (KFS) middle blocker Nicholas Mwangi succumbed to injuries sustained in a road accident while receiving treatment at the Kenyatta Natioanl Hospital's intensive care unit.

And safari rally legend Jayant Shah also breathed his last at a Nairobi hospital aged 78 after a short illness.

The Arusha-based businessman was an avid participant of the East African Classic Car events in a Porshe 911 and a mentor to aspiring rally drivers.

On the international front, Papa Bouba Diop, an ex-Sengalese footballer remembered for scoring the lone goal when the Lions of Teranga shocked France in the opening match of the 2002 Fifa World Cup, died in Paris aged 42.

Nicknamed the "Wardrobe" by his colleagues owing to his sharp sense of fashion, Diop also won the FA Cup with English side Portsmouth and enjoyed a separate spell at Fulham.

Football's world governing body Fifa paid tribute to him with a message 'Once a World Cup hero, always a World Cup hero' on its website.

The East African rugby fraternity also also lost Ugandan coach Robert Seguya, one of the country's greatest rugby players.

In England, Jimmy Greaves, another World Cup hero passed on aged 81.

The Tottenham Hotspur and England footballing legend is widely accepted as one of the greatest goalscorers the country ever produced and remembered for his heroics at the 1966 World Cup.

Lamine Diack, a former president of World Athletics, also died aged 88.

So did a number of local former football officials including Mohammed Hatimy, Maina Kariuki and Mohamed Omar.

Hatimy who was a nominated Member of the County Assembly (MCA) in Mombasa at the time of his death, succumbed to Covid-19 complications in November. Kariuki, Hatimy's predecessor, passed on quietly in August long after exiting public life.

Omar served as Confederation of African Football (Caf) match commissioner until his death.

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