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6 Kenyan athletes whose deaths made headlines

World Marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum joins a list of Kenyan athletes whose death made headlines.

Aged 24, Kiptum was the fastest runner ever in the history of the marathon and was considered the favourite to win the 42 km race at the Paris Olympics in July.

He was also tipped to be the first human being to run the 42-km marathon in less than two hours considering his recent impressive timings.

Kelvin and his Rwandese coach Gervais Hakizimana died in a road accident in Kaptagat area along the Elgeyo Marakwet-Ravine road.

The accident occurred on Sunday, February 11 at 11 pm, according to Elgeyo Marakwet Police Commander Peter Mulinge.

Kiptum was driving a Toyota Premio with two passengers on board – Gervais and a lady identified as Sharon Kosgey heading to Eldoret.

Sharon escaped with serious injuries and was rushed to Racecourse Hospital for medical attention, while the bodies of the athlete and his coach were taken to the Racecourse Hospital mortuary.

The vehicle was badly damaged and was towed to Kaptagat Police Station.

“This was a self-involved accident where one Kelvin Kiptum, the world marathon record holder, was driving his vehicle with two passengers. Kiptum and Hakizimana died on the spot and the third person was rushed to Racecourse Hospital in Eldoret,” said the County Commander.

Here is a list of other Kenyan athletes who have died in controversial circumstances.

Agnes Tirop

The murder of the World’s 10,000-metre bronze medalist Agnes Tirop has been linked to a possible love triangle.

Tirop was found murdered at her home on a Rural Estate near Iten town in Elgeyo Marakwet in October 2021.

Her body was found in a pool of blood on a bed in their bedroom with a stab wound in the neck.

Tirop’s husband Ibrahim Rotich was named as the prime suspect in the death of international athlete.

Agnes was the 2015 World Cross Country champion and had participated in the August Tokyo Olympics where she finished fourth in the 5,000-metre race.

The 25-year-old athlete participated in a race in Germany and finished second two weeks before her death.

She had just returned to the country with a trophy that she had yet to unseal.

Benjamin Kiplagat

The Kenyan-Ugandan athlete Benjamin Kiplagat was found dead in December 2023.

Kiplagat’s body was discovered in a car on the outskirts of Eldoret with a knife wound to his neck, suggesting he was murdered, according to the local police.

Kiplagat, 34, had represented Uganda internationally in the 3,000-metre steeplechase, including at several Olympic Games and World Championships.

Hosea Mwok Machirinyang

Macharinyang, 35, was found dead at his home in Murkwijit, West Pokot County in October 2021.

He was a Kenyan professional runner who specialised in the 10,000 metres and cross-country running.

He won three consecutive team titles with Kenya at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships from 2006 to 2008.

Nicholas Bett 

Nicholas Bett died in a car accident two days after returning from the African championships in Nigeria in 2018.

The athlete perished in a grisly road accident in Nandi County after the car he was driving veered off the road and landed in a ditch at Sachoi.

Nicholas Kiplagat Bett was a Kenyan track and field athlete who competed in the 400-metre hurdles.

His personal best for the event is 47.79 seconds.

He was a world champion in the event, having won in 2015, and a two-time bronze medallist at the African Championships in Athletics.

Samuel Wanjiru

Samuel Kamau Wanjiru was 24 years old when he met his death on May 15, 2011.

Samuel Wanjiru was a long-distance runner who won the 2008 Beijing Olympics Marathon in an Olympic record time of 2:06:32; becoming the first Kenyan to win the Olympic gold in the marathon.

He became the youngest gold medalist in the marathon since 1932.

Samuel Wanjiru died after a fall from a balcony at his home in Nyahururu following an alleged domestic dispute.