Heroic sendoff for former Athletics Kenya boss Kiplagat
Former Athletics Kenya (AK) chairman Isaiah Kiplagat was on Friday laid to rest with thousands of mourners converging on his Kapseret home in Uasin Gishu County.
The burial brought together active and former world beating athletes to give Kiplagat a heroic send-off.
Speakers paid glowing tribute, describing him as a mentor for numerous young athletes.
Britain’s Lord Sebastian Coe, the IAAF president, and Hamad Kalkaba Malboum of Cameroon, the Confederation of Africa Athletics president, were among a host of global personalities that sent messages of condolence.
The Uganda Athletics Federation was represented by secretary-general Beatrice Ayikoru, who said Mr Kiplagat extended his wealth of experience to them.
“He always received our athletes and officials with open hands, whether in Kenya or at international competitions and offered us support whenever needed,” she said.
Newly crowned Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge, four-time world 3,000m steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi, marathoner Ednah Kiplagat and javelin world champion Julius Yego were among hundreds of elite athletes present.
Area Governor Jackson Mandago, Nandi Deputy Governor Dominic Biwott, MPs Oscar Sudi, Stephen Bittok, Zipporah Kering, Julius Melly, Elijah Lagat, Eusila Ng’eny, Samuel Moroto, Prof Belio Kipsang, Basic Education PS and former Cabinet minister Henry Kosgey were also present.
Others were Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula, Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa and Benjamin Njoga, the Principal Assistant Commissioner-General of Kenya Prisons.
Ezekiel Kemboi told mourners that Kiplagat helped him hone his talent.
“In 2002, I signed contracts with two agents not knowing it was illegal. I thought I was signing autographs. When I realised the mistake, I called Kiplagat who and helped me sort out the problem,” he said.
Eliud Kipchoge said Mr Kiplagat had great leadership skills. “All I can say is that he had a sound and decisive mind and did a lot for this nation.”
Athletics Kenya president Jackson Tuwei said he would strive to continue Kiplagat’s legacy at the Nairobi-based Riadha House. “As AK, we learned a lot from him,” he said.
MAN OF STEEL
National Olympics Committee of Kenya (Nock) president Kipchoge Keino described Mr Kiplagat as a man of steel.
“He had no time for jokes when at work as he was passionate about his job. Kiplagat was a dedicated person who put Kenya on the world map,” said Dr Keino.
Mr Kiplagat’s widow Joan described him as a husband and a good friend. “My life with him was a fairy tale,” she said.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose eulogy was read by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett, said:
“He was a person of enormous influence and outstanding ability and an inspiring figure in athletics. We appreciate his contribution to the growth of sports in this country.”
Mr Kiplagat, who was under provisional suspension by the IAAF Ethics Commission, died at 72 last Wednesday at his Karen home from colon cancer. He leaves behind of five children.