Former world champ Koech laid to rest

By Joan Letting: Tuesday, September 11th 2018 at 19:25 GMT +3 | Athletics
Koech laid to rest IAAF World Half Marathon winner Paul Koech was yesterday laid to rest at his farm in Kipsomba village Soy Constituency in Uasin Gishu County. Photos by Joan Letting

Ex-world champ Koech laid to rest

Uhuru eulogises Koech as a selfless, dedicated and loyal Kenya Army man.

Paul Koech, the 1998 IAAF World Half Marathon winner, was on Tuesday laid to rest in an emotional funeral at his farm in Kipsomba village, Soy Constituency in Uasin Gishu County.

Thousands of mourners including athletes and leaders lined up to pay their last respects to the fallen athletics maestro, who flew the Kenyan flag at the continental and global stage.

Speaker after speaker condoled with the family describing the late Kenya Defence Major as a peace loving gentle man who had a great vision in the military and sports.

In a speech read by Athletics Kenya Defence Forces chairman Brigadier Daniel Pyaban, President Uhuru Kenyatta described Koech as a selfless man who was ready to protect the country.

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“I learnt with deep sorrow the news of the passing on of Major Koech. He was a selfless, dedicated and loyal officer,” said Uhuru.

Athletics Kenya fraternity led by AK Vice President Paul Mutwii,  AK CEO Susan Kamau  and executive committee member Barnabas Korir condoled with the family noting that the country had lost an instrumental man in Kenyan athletics.

Uasin Gishu County leaders led by Governor Jackson Mandago, his deputy Daniel Chemno, area MP Caleb Kositany and other leaders including senior military officials condoled with the family and urged the youth to follow in the footsteps of Koech.

“Koech balanced his work, talent and development for the sake of his family. He also set up a school for the community. He was very respectable and protected his image,” said Mandago.

“He was a great sportsman. He was a hero who reaped from his sweat,” said Chemno.

Koech, who was a Major at the Kenya Defence Forces, died at the Defence Forces Memorial Hospital last week after a short illness.

He was married to Zipporah Koech and had six children. A sombre mood engulfed the compound as the military gave Koech a 21-gun salute.

Koech staged brilliant shows in cross country, track (10,000m) and road running in the 1990’s with memorable moments as he challenged five-time world cross country champion Paul Tergat in 10,000m and cross country during national trials.

In this Monday, July 29, 1996 file photo, Kenya's Paul Koech (1806), right, is challenged by Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie (1391) on the final lap of the 10,000 meter final at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Gebrselassie went on to win the gold. Former world half marathon champion Paul Koech of Kenya died on on Monday Sept. 3, 2018, but no cause of death was given. He was 49. (AP Photo/Doug Mills, File)

He won 10,000m bronze at the All Africa Games in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1995 before grabbing the 5,000m African title in Yaounde, Cameroon, in 1996. Koech was a three-time national champion in cross-country from 1997 to 1999.

Meanwhile, Sports Disputes Tribunal will issue a ruling on a case involving Commonwealth Games 3,000m steeplechase silver medalist Celphine Chespol on November 2.

The 19-year-old has been a victim of two athletics agents fighting to land her signature, but worse still, she stares at a two-year ban if she misses a third, having already missed two out of competition tests.

The agents fighting for the rights are Marc Corstjens of Golazo and Owen Anderson, who registered at Athletics Kenya and IAAF, as athletes representatives.

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