Big names in sports honoured at Mashujaa Day

Some of the Heroes and Heroines including 1500 M World record holder Faith Kipyegon during the 60th Mashujaa day celebration at Kericho Green Stadium in Kericho county on October 20,2023.[Kipsang Joseph,Standard]

The names of world record breakers, Faith Kipyegon and Kelvin Kiptum featured prominently on Friday as Kenya honoured its sports heroes during the 60th Mashujaa Day celebrations in Kericho.

History makers, both living and deceased were recognised in the national event held at the Kericho Green Stadium which was officially renamed Kiprugut Chumo Stadium in honour of the late Chumo.

Chumo was the first Kenyan athlete to win an Olympic medal in 1964. He died in November last year.

He was a two-time Olympic medallist; 800m bronze in 1964 and a silver in the two-lap race in 1968.

The National Heroes Council, the agency mandated with identifying the country’s icons named 24 sportsmen and women who were among 157 individuals (alive and deceased) recognised as Kenyan heroes during the fete led by President William Ruto.

On the renaming of Kericho Green Stadium, the venue of yesterday Mashujaa Day celebrations, to Kiprugut Chumo Stadium, President William Ruto said: “Allow me to celebrate Kiprugut Chumo, the first Kenyan to win an Olympic medal, by renaming the Kericho Green Stadium after him.”

Faith Kipyegon from Keringet in Nakuru County was honoured for her jaw-dropping performances and memorable achievements this year.

The Heroes Council, in its citation, said Kipyegon was celebrated for her dedication to sports.

“She is the current world record holder for 1500m and a former world record holder for 5000m. She won a gold medal in 1500 metres at both the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“She has additionally won gold medals in 1500m at the 2017, 2022, and 2023 World Athletics Championships. She won a gold medal in 5000m at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary,” the council said.

Kelvin Kiptum, the World’s fastest marathoner (in a competitive race) made it to the list of Kenyan sports heroes.

Kiptum started raising eyebrows across the globe after his historic wins at the 2022 Valencia Marathon last December before running the then second-fastest 42km race in London in April before shattering Eliud Kipchoge’s World Record in Chicago earlier this month.

“Kelvin (Kiptum) is recognised for being the first man in history to run the marathon under two hours and one minute in a record-eligible race. He has competed in and won three marathons so far, including two top-tier World Marathon Majors, securing between December 2022 and October 2023 three of the top six times ever run,” a citation by the Heroes Council read in part.

Kiptum comes from Chepsamo village in Elgeyo Marakwet County.

Rising star Emmanuel Wanyonyi was not left behind. The world 800m silver medallist and former World Under-20 champion in the two-lap race was feted for his contributions as a sportsman, according to the council.

“He is a middle-distance runner who specializes in the 800m. He won a gold medal at the 2021 World Under 20 Championships,” the council said in its recognition.

Doris Nyangor was honoured for pioneering sitting volleyball in Kenya. 

“In 2009 as a team captain, she assisted her team in winning Gold during the hosting of the Africa sitting volleyball championship in Nairobi and qualified for the 2010 World Cup in Oklahoma, Japan.

Athletics legends comprising former world champion Douglas Wakiihuri as well as the late Naftali Temu, Kenya’s last man to win a 10,000m Olympic gold medal at the Mexico City showdown in 1968 were equally recognised.

Wakiihuri was celebrated as a Kenyan sports hero for his brilliant accomplishments in marathon racing, including winning gold at the 1987 World Championships and an Olympic silver medal in 1988.

“Additionally, he was the first Kenyan to win a gold medal in the 1990 Commonwealth Marathon,” the council said.

Temu who was born in Nyamira was posthumously celebrated as a hero for becoming Kenya's first gold medallist in 10,000m at the 1968 Olympics. Temu died on March 10, 2003.

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