What you need to know:
- Peter Nduati, who played with Ayimba at Impala Saracens, eulogised the coach as a winner.
- Several Football Kenya Federation clubs, among them Wazito, Sofapaka and Gor Mahia, also sent out their messages of support to the family of the late coach.
Kenyans and the world of rugby are in mourning following the death of celebrated former Kenya Sevens head coach Benjamin Ayimba on Friday.
Family spokesman Oscar Osir told Nation Sport that Ayimba, who had been battling cerebral malaria, passed on at 8pm on Friday at the Kenyatta National Hospital where he was receiving treatment for the last one month.
"Benjamin succumbed to the multiple complications he was being treated for over the past couple of months," said Osir.
Kenyan from all walks of life took to social media to pay tribute to Ayimba, who captained both Kenya Sevens and Kenya Simbas sides before taking over as coach of the shorter version of the sport.
Ayimba was arguably the most successful Kenya Sevens coach having guided Kenya to their maiden victory in the World Rugby Sevens Series with victory at the 2016 Singapore Sevens.
The team hammered Fiji 3-7 in the final, their only main cup victory in the World Series to date.
The Kenya Rugby Union also confirmed that "a warrior had rested".
"A warrior rests... We join the Ayimba family and the entire rugby and sporting fraternity in mourning legendary backrow and former @KenyaSevens Head Coach @benayimba who passed away on Friday 21 May 2021. #RipBenja," the Union said in a tweet early Saturday.
Kenya Rugby League Federation (KRLF), where Ayimba was serving as a technical director, Deputy President William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga, National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) president Paul Tergat were among those who paid tribute to Ayimba for his endearing services in sports.
Kisumu County Governor Anyang Nyong'o. and senators James Orengo (Siaya) and Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni) also condoled with Ayimba's family and rugby fraternity.
Paul "Pau" Murunga, who served as Ayimba's deputy and Geoffrey Kimani, who was the strength and conditioning coach at the history-making 2016 Singapore Sevens, reminisced on the moments they shared with the late former international sevens and 15s captain.
"His contribution to the growth of rugby development in Kenya and international class high performance rugby and leadership was phenomenal and just the stuff of legends," said KRFL chairman Richard "Quicks" Nyakwaka.
Murunga said Ayimba was like a big brother to him as well as best friend and mentor.
"He trusted my coaching ability and trusted every word I said. He gave me an opportunity to assist him in coaching and God blessed us winning Singapore and qualified for 2016 Rio Olympics," said Murunga. "He could spend most time with me and my wife sharing ideas. He wished me all the very best in life," said Murunga, who would later succeeded Ayimba as head coach after he was relieved off his duties.
Kimani said he was in search of a job in November 2006 when he met Ayimba.
"I was to give a free session for Kenya Sevens which I did, and Ayimba told me to show up for the next session and that is how my journey with Kenya Sevens started...he actually hired me!," said Kimani.
Kimani said Ayimba was a fiercely result-oriented coach and a good motivator in the team, which made his work easier.
"He always kept everything professional, even when on differing opinions. He would stamp his authority and in few minutes back to the gentle Benja. He never kept grudges," said Kimani, adding that Ayimba was big on the team being a family and taking care of each other as brothers. " I will miss him dearly."
Tergat said the world of sports has lost a legend who led Kenya Sevens to its maiden appearance at the Olympics during the 2016 Rio Summer Games. "It's such a huge blow to lose Ayimba who was synonymous with rugby development in the country," said Tergat.
Deputy President Ruto also led Kenyans in paying tribute to Ayimba.
Odinga eulogised Ayimba as a patriot.
"We have lost a great patriot in Benjamin Ayimba. Prior to taking up coaching he had an illustrious career as a Rugby 15s and 7s international. As coach he led Kenya to their first World Sevens Series title when they beat Fiji at the Singapore Sevens in 2016," Odinga said in a series of tweets.
"My heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends and the entire Rugby fraternity. Rest In Peace Benja."
Nyong'o said the rugby family and Kenyan sports have been left poorer by the passing on of the legend.
"His performance as a player and coach brought happiness to many who were glued to television sets to watch. He brought the nation together even at times of most fragmentation," said Nyong'o.
"Benjamin Ayimba was an incredibly special part of rugby in Kenya, he will forever be remembered for his outstanding pace and skill, his strength as a player and coach, and his kind and genuine nature both on and off the field. May his soul rest in peace"
Orengo said Ayimba's services to the nation will be remembered forever.
Oscar Ouma, who was a core part of Ayimba's conquering Sevens team, thanked the coach for giving him the opportunity to play for the country's top rugby team.
Ayimba's influence was cut across all sports and non-sporting industries. His death left all in shock.
The national men's football team captain, Victor Wanyama, also sent his message of condolences to the family.
"A true legend of the game and a patriot ,thank you for the memories," Wanyama said on Twitter.
Celebrated gospel music artist Owen Mwatia, popularly known by the stage name Daddy Owen, was not left behind.
Peter Nduati, who played with Ayimba at Impala Saracens, eulogised the coach as a winner.
Several Football Kenya Federation clubs, among them Wazito, Sofapaka and Gor Mahia, also sent out their messages of support to the family of the late coach.
Mutula Kilonzo Junior said: ""Benjamin Ayimba will be remembered for his service to the nation as a player and coach of the 7s team. Rest In Peace bro. Our condolences to family, friends and the rugby fraternity."