Olympic medalist Ben Kogo is dead

ATHLETICS |
3000m steple chase in mexico city. the race held on 10/16/1968 was won by Amos Biwott of Kenya (562) and followed by Benjamin Kogo (562) of Kenya [photo courtesy]

Benjamin Kogo (popularly known as Ben Kogo), a former Olympic 3000m steeplechase silver medalist, has died aged 77.

He was born in Arwos, Nandi County on November 30, 1944.

His son Boniface Kurgat confirmed his demise on Friday. He said Kogo passed on at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital’s Memorial wing on Thursday evening.

Kurgat said the veteran athlete has been battling prostate cancer since May last year.

“He started feeling unwell in April last year. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in May but has been strong since then until recently when the disease took a toll on him,” he said.

He added: “He (Ben Kogo) has been in and out of hospital but the situation worsened in December. We rushed him to MTRH on Wednesday and he left us at 5:45pm.”

Kurgat said the family was still coming to terms with the loss.

Veteran Athletic Champions Benjamin Kogo (left), Naphtali Bon and Amos Biwott watching the Berlin Marathon over glasses of Mursik, the legendary Nandi drink that is said to 'fuel' athletic champions to victory. The three were among a mammoth crowd that watched the athletic event at the Nandi County Sports department in Kapsabet. PHOTO By RAEL JELIMO

“As a family, we celebrate him as a hero who represented the country in the 1960, way before we were born. We are still sending messages to relatives and his friends before we commence funeral arrangements,” he said.

Kogo won silver for Kenya at the 1968 Summer Olympics, in an event won by his compatriot Amos Biwott, who also comes from Nandi.

Kogo had failed to make the final at steeplechase at the 1964 Summer Olympics.

A year later, in 1965, he won gold at the first All-Africa Games held in Brazzaville.

Kogo is also a Commonwealth Games bronze medalist after clinching the title in 1966.

Meanwhile, NOC-K President Paul Tergat has expressed his and the NOC-K family deep sorrow following the passing on of legendary athletics administrator and then IAAF regional Director in Nairobi, John Velzian on Thursday.

Velzian was Kenya’s first national athletics head coach.

“His dedication and passion towards sports will greatly be missed. He raised the athletics standards to another level and in 1965 steered Kenya to her first Africa Senior Athletics Championship and nurtured stars like the honorary legend, Kipchoge Keino.”

Tergat noted that Kenya's athletics prowess history cannot be written without Velzian's indelible footprints.

Velzian had been awarded the World Athletics Honorary Plaque and World Athletics Coaching Lifetime Achievement Award.

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