Nairobi, Kenya – In just a few years, Agnes Tirop established herself as one of the brightest stars in the athletics world, breaking records and winning medals to become the breadwinner for her vast Kenyan family.
But the distance runner’s life and dreams were cruelly cut short when she was found stabbed to death in the bedroom of her home in Iten, Kenya’s world-renowned training center, on Wednesday, just 10 days after her 26th. birthday.
Kenya, the country’s athletics body lamented, had lost a “gem that was one of the fastest-rising athletic giants on the international stage.”
“As evidence of what he has accomplished in his young career so far, this is a truncated life, one that will hurt us … for quite some time,” said Atletico Kenya coach Jackson Tuwei.
Born in October 1995 to a peasant family in the quiet Rift Valley town of Kesses, Tirop began her athletic career less than a decade ago, but quickly rose to second place in national and international cross country races.
She then became one of Kenya’s rising stars, as a 2015 world cross-country champion, a two-time world medalist in over 10,000 meters, and came fourth at the Tokyo Olympics this year.
She died just a month after one of her greatest achievements: breaking the women’s 10km world record in Germany with a time of 30:01, 28 seconds behind her previous best.
Police said her husband Emmanuel Rotich, who was arrested Thursday night in the coastal city of Mombasa, called Tirop’s parents to tell them he had done something “wrong,” amid media reports about problems in your marriage.
‘One of us’
As the athlete made history abroad, her family relied on the smiling 25-year-old as a breadwinner.
“Agnes was our only hope. We, as athletes of the family, do not know what we are going to do, ”said his cousin Joash Limo, himself a 5,000-meter athlete, who called on the government to ensure that justice is done.
He spoke as the mourners, some of them sobbing, gathered at the family home in a village about a two-hour drive from Iten, where with relative pride they displayed the medals and trophies of Tirop.
Tirop’s grieving mother, Dinah, spoke about her daughter’s generosity to the family, paying for school fees and children’s clothing.
“He also depended on her for everything,” he said. “Whenever I visited her home, she would shop for me and we all celebrated being with her.”
At Iten, the high-altitude training center in the Rift Valley of western Kenya, other athletes said they were heartbroken.
“Agnes Tirop has been one of us, we have been training here in Iten, participating and representing our community, representing our nation in various events around the world. He’s been doing very, very well, ”said Isaiah Kosgei, a marathon runner and sports physical therapist.
After her 10k win in Germany, Tirop posted a photo of herself on Instagram with a beaming smile and her yellow sneakers inscribed with the world time.
He thanked God, his managers, sponsors and fans, and ended with a now deeply moving statement: “Tomorrow is promising.”
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