The late Benjamin Ayimba [Courtesy]

Former Kenya 7’s rugby coach Benjamin Ayimba Otieno is dead. Ayimba, who had been battling cerebral malaria, succumbed at the Kenyatta National hospital where he had been admitted for specialized treatment in the High Dependency Unit (H. D. U).

Going down in history as one of Kenya’s most decorated coaches for the 7’s and 15’s teams, Ayimba will be remembered for putting Kenya in the global map after steering the 7’s team to its first-ever World series title in Singapore 2016 where Kenya, then regarded as underdogs, beat favourites Fiji 30 - 7 in a thrilling encounter.

As a player, he had represented Kenya in Rugby 7’s world cup in 2001 and again in 2005. The following year, the Kibra born veteran received his first appointment as the team’s head coach, a position he held for five years.

He later took a hiatus before being recalled in 2015 leading to the memorable performance in the Singapore 7’s.

Just weeks ago, Benja’s family had made an appeal to Kenyans to help him settle a medical bill and a funds drive was ongoing before his demise last evening. Sports personalities and celebrities woke up to the sad news and many took to social media to pay tribute to the fallen hero.

Collins Injera wrote, “RIP Benja. Thanks for the opportunity and memories.”

Humphrey Khayange wrote, “Thanks for being a big brother, mentor, stylist. I will miss the banter, chat and the cheeky ones.”

Carol Radul, “This is hard. Rest in Peace Benja.”

Daddy Owen, “Just so sad. I extend my deepest sympathies to the family.”

Jackie Arkle, “You were a gentle giant with an infectious smile. We shall miss you.”

George Bwana, “You left a mark. You take a bow. Rest well brother.”