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Deputy President praises fallen hurdles giant as Yego calls for AK to set up academy for sprinters

ATHLETICS By Joan Letting | August 17th 2018
Fellow athletes throw flower petals as a sign of celebrating their fallen colleague former 400M hurdle world champion Nicholas Bett during the athlete's burial at Simat in Uasin Gishu County. 16-08-2018. PHOTO BY: KEVIN TUNOI

The 2015 400m hurdles champion Nicholas Bett was laid to rest at Simat location, Uasin Gishu County in a moving ceremony attended by Deputy President William Ruto and hundreds of athletes among them celebrated Olympians.

Speaker after speaker described the late Bett as a trailblazer for Kenyans in hurdling and a humble, hardworking man.

Among those present to bid Bett bye were Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge, former 800m champions Janeth Jepkosgei and Eunice Sum, Asbel Kiprop, Kirwa Yego among others.

Deputy President Ruto said Bett had made Kenya proud.

“We join the sporting fraternity in celebrating the life of a great man. He was not only a national athlete but an international citizen. He did a good job in the police and in athletics. He was a great inspiration and showed that with determination, hard work and focus, you can do anything in the world,” said Ruto.

Former 3000m steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi described him as a hero who fought until the end.

“I am deeply saddened by his death. I was with him for four years in Team Kenya and his death is unfathomable,’ said Kemboi before breaking down.

Javelin champion Julius Yego asked athletics Kenya to realise Bett’s dream of a sprints academy in the country.

“When he was in Gold Coast for the Commonwealth games, he asked athletics Kenya to support the sprinters and hurdlers by building a training camp. He wanted the young athletes to prosper and build base for sprinting in Kenya,” said Yego.

Athletics President Jackson Tuwei revealed they were in talks with the fallen athlete adding that there were plans to set up the training camp.

The Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet said Bett was a humble man with integrity while serving in the force.

“He was liked by his superiors and subordinates equally for his humility. Despite his athletic prowess, he remained humble and patriotic,” the IG said.

The 28-year-old Bett died on August 8 when a Toyota Land Cruiser he was driving hit a bump at Sochoi and overturned killing him on the spot.

The athlete, who shot to fame when he won a gold medal in the 2015 World championships in Beijing, died on the spot.

Coach Irene Reyneke from South Africa said she met Bett in December last year when he went to South Africa for training.

Bett later went back to South Africa to train with her group in January 2018 in his quest to qualify for the commonwealth games in Australia.

“He inspired us in South Africa so much. He gave all of us hope. He had to sacrifice so much to become a champion. He taught us to never give up on our dreams. He was an amazing young man,” said Reyneke.

Athletics Kenya Central Rift Chairman Abraham Mutai noted that Bett was a volleyballer before he started participating in athletics.

“He was polite, dedicated and that is the reason he made it in the steeplechase. He inspired many people as he excelled in areas which are not very popular in Kenya. His loss is a loss not only to hi family but to the greater athletics fraternity,” said Mutai.

He was born on 27th January 1990. He attended Simat Primary in 1997 and later proceeded to Cheptil High school. He was active in athletics and volleyball in school. He first won 110m hurdles at the National Primary school games. He joined the National Police service in 2011.

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