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Glowing tributes at champ Tirop's send-off

NATIONAL
By Stephen Rutto and Jonathan Komen | October 23rd 2021

5000M World record holder Joshua Cheptegei and the team of athletes from Ugandan Eulogizing at the Burial ceremony of the late Agnes Jebet Tirop at St.Michael's Academy at Kapnyamisa village, Nandi County on October  23, 2021. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

A sombre mood engulfed mourners who had gathered to witness the funeral of slain athlete Agnes Jebet Tirop at Kapnyamisa village in Nandi County, yesterday.

Tirop was an athlete with a rich resume. Sample her calling card: two-time world 10,000m bronze medalist, world cross country champion, world 10km women-only record holder and fourth-placed at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 5,000m.

And that prompted global athletics enthusiasts to give her a befitting send-off, with a rallying call to recover her property, whose ownership is said to have been transferred to man she was in a relationship with.

A little after 9am, Tirop’s final farewell began, with Catholic priest Father Kennedy Kipruto leading the mass. Not too far from the dias draped in red, black and white, stood the white casket bearing Agnes’ remains, surrounded by brightly-coloured petals strewn on the ground.

In a joint tribute, Agnes Tirop’s parents, Vincent and Dinah Tirop described their daughter as a little girl who redefined elegance.

They eulogised their daughter as glorious, remembering how, as a young girl, she looked elegant in her favourite white dress which had flapping wings. The parents said Agnes was a jovial and God-fearing girl.

“Your smile melted even the hardest of emotions. Your laughter was so infectious and above all, you turned out to be a God-fearing girl,” the parents said.

Her mother Dinah described her daughter’s generosity.

“She was a very generous girl. She helped me in almost everything. She has been paying school fees for five of her siblings,” she said.

Agnes’ siblings also paid tribute to their sister, describing the athlete as cheerful, even as they reminisced the many ideas they shared on development as a family.

Deputy President William Ruto, in his speech read by Nandi Governor Stephen Sang, described Tirop as a distinguished ambassador who worked extra-ordinarily for the nation.

“She was a young woman with a strong mind, talented long distance athlete. She was focused, dedicated and resilient in ensuring our flag flew high across the globe.  

“Nowhere was her diligence and positive energy more pronounced than in Germany when she broke the women-only world 10km record,” said Ruto.

In a statement, ODM leader Raila Odinga said Agnes’ family must recover all the property Agnes had acquired.

At the same time, Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed, in her speech, condemned gender-based violence.

“What happened to Agnes should not happen to another family. No parent should have to go through the pain and sorrow that her parents are experiencing. Let us therefore start a movement to save our children.

“Our children are a reflection of who we are as individuals, parents and a society. As adults, we are their first teachers in life,” said the CS.

Athletics Kenya President Jack Tuwei conveyed a message from World Athletics President Sebastian Coe and many other African athletics federations.

Tuwei vowed to ensure Tirop’s properties are returned to her parents.

“We hope that investigating agencies will identify all her properties and return them to their rightful owners, which is her parents.

“The World Athletics Cross Country Tour, which Kenya will host in Eldoret in February, will be named Agnes Tirop Memorial Cross Country Tour in her honour. We have agreed with World Athletics to rename the global meet. We will honour her because she was among athletes respected across the globe,” said Tuwei.

Olympic 5000m champion Joshua Cheptegei led a team of more than 10 top Ugandan athletes, among them Olympic 3,000m champion Ruth Chemutai, Olympic 5,000m bronze medalist Jacob Kiplimo and Olympian Benjamin Kiplagat to bid farewell to Tirop.

Cheptegei, the world 5,000m and 10,000m record holder, moved mourners with his remarks.

“Injustice to women in Kenya remains injustice to women all over the world. We must condemn it,” he said.

Cheptegei caused laughter when he apologised for beating Kenyans in the 3,000m steeplechase and 5,000m at the Olympic games.

“I am happy to stand before you as an Olympic champion but remember we are one. We share many things in common and so we are one. I train with Geoffrey Kamworor and Faith Chepngetich,” he said.

Also present were Nandi Governor Stephen Sang, Senators Samson Cherargei (Nandi), Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet) as well as MPs Wilson Kogo (Chesumei), Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills) and Oscar Sudi (Kapseret).

Cherargei said since they have passed the Mental Health Bill at the senate, and are awaiting approval from the National Assembly and for the President to assent it.

“If passed and assented, the Bill will address issues on mental challenges that most of our athletes face just like all of us,” said Cherargei.

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