October 14, (THEWILL) – Tributes continue to pour in for Agnes Tirop, Kenya’s former athletics captain, who was found dead on Wednesday.
The 25-year-old was found stabbed to death at her home. Her husband has now been named as a suspect by police.
Tirop’s athletic captain, Julius Yego, led the tributes. Yego was Tirop’s team captain when she won 10,000m bronze at the 2019 World Athletics Championships.
“She was an amazing young girl who was really working hard to be one of the top athletes in the world,” Yego said.
“She wanted to be the best and it was only a few weeks ago that she broke the world record for the 10km. Her successful career was still being crafted but unfortunately, someone decided the whole story cannot be written.”
Tirop had success as a junior, winning bronze in the 5,000m at the World Championships in 2012 and 2014, and as a senior, winning the World Cross Country Championships in 2015.
Tirop won bronze in the 10,000m at the World Athletics Championships in 2017 and 2019, before finishing 0.75 seconds outside the medal positions at the Tokyo Olympics two months ago.
She set a new world record for the 10km road race in Germany last month, clocking in at 30 minutes and one second.
“We just lost a great talent. She was such a strong woman and committed to what she was doing,” Yego mourned.
The Olympic javelin silver medallist said he would always remember her as: “A young lady who was so peaceful, so humble, always smiling.”
He continued: “We had a difficult day yesterday – it is still shocking. When you check on social media or TV, it is the sad news of Agnes. We are still collecting ourselves.”
Also mournful was one of Tirop’s competitors on the track, Hellen Obiri, who had high hopes for Tirop. Despite the fact that the 31-year-old won Olympic 5,000m silver in Tokyo two months ago, beating Tirop in the race, she expected her compatriot to take over the distance mantle as she transitioned to road running.
“It was shocking news to me that Agnes is no more,” Obiri said. “I have raced with Agnes in so many races – recently in Tokyo. I was hoping Agnes would take over from me (as the next track star) but it was an untimely death for her. May she rest in eternal peace.”
Tributes and condolences have been sent from all over the world, as well as from close to home.
“We are deeply shocked to hear the sudden death of our fellow athlete Tirop Agnes,” Halima Nakayi, Uganda’s 800m world champion, posted on social media. “I send my condolences to her family, friends and the Kenyan athletics community.”
“It’s not easy to say goodbye to your ever smiling face,” said fellow Ugandan middle distance runner Winnie Nanyondo. “I can’t believe that you’re no more – such a friendly soul. It’s so painful.”
Sebastian Coe, the president of World Athletics, and Thomas Bach, his counterpart at the International Olympic Committee, both spoke about Tirop’s death on Wednesday.
The former double Olympic champion Coe described Tirop as “one of the world’s best female distance runners over the past six years”.
“Athletics has lost one of its brightest young stars in the most tragic circumstances,” he added. “This is a terrible blow to the entire athletics community, but especially to her family, her friends and Athletics Kenya. I send them all our most heartfelt condolences.”
In a Twitter post, Bach praised Tirop as an inspiration: “I’m deeply shocked by the tragic death of Agnes Tirop, a young and bright talent. Her performances at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 gave hope and inspiration to so many people. My thoughts go to the Kenyan Olympic community and especially to her friends and family.”
Tirop set the 10km road race world record at Adidas’ headquarters in Germany last month