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Kenya Sevens coach Innocent Simiyu's tribute to late Benjamin Ayimba

RUGBY By Waweru Titus | May 23rd 2021
Benjamin Ayimba will be remembered as the man who brought the trophy home, after Kenya thrashed Fiji 30-7 in the 2016 Singapore Sevens final. [File, The Standard]

Kenya Sevens coach Innocent "Namcos" Simiyu described Benjamin Ayimba as a servant of rugby and sport in general.

In an exclusive interview with The Standard Sports weeks ago, coach Simuyu recalled some of the memories he had with the rugby legend over the years.

“It is very heartbreaking! I remember when I left high school and made it to the national team when I was 18. Benjamin was the captain and introduced us to the international level,” Simiyu told The Standard Sports.

“He was an inspirational captain and even when he became a coach, I was his first captain. We had a very good year and we got into the finals in the first year. He really mentored us to challenge, renew our thinking and change our mindset. He changed the notion that we were underdogs and put in us that we could beat the big boys,” an emotional Simuyu stated.

“Benjamin has been a servant of the game and sport in Kenya. We as his fans, his family and his friends should support his dependants,” the Shujaa coach concluded.

Kenya Rugby Sevens players celebrate after winning the Main Cup during the HSBC rugby series in Singapore. The team well known as shujaa received a heroic welcome during their arrival in Kenya. This was on 19/04/2016. [File, The Standard]

Ayimba’s sickness and death

The family spokesman Oscar Osir confirmed Ayimba’s death on Saturday.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Benjamin on Friday 21 May 2021. Benjamin succumbed to the multiple complications he was being treated for over the past couple of months,” Osir told Kenya Rugby Union.

Ayimba (44) had been battling cerebral malaria, which has kept him away from the public eye since the start of 2021.

On May 9, Ayimba’s family gave an update on his health status, urging Kenyans to keep on contributing money to offset the medical bill of the ailing rugby legend.

The Kenya Rugby Union confirmed the news through their Twitter handle, where they paid condolences to the Ayimba family.

The rugby legend had previously been admitted at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) Private Wing.

History

Ayimba was an accomplished coach for Kenya Sevens and 15s and highly regarded as one of the most successful coaches in the country.

He stood out as the youngest Kenyan to serve as Kenya 15s coach at 25 years old and Kenya Sevens at 30 years old.

He basked in three World Cup Rugby Union appearances -2001, 2005 and 2009 - alongside four Commonwealth Games appearances in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010.

His illustrious career aside, Ayimba will be remembered as the man who brought the trophy home, after Kenya thrashed Fiji 30-7 in the 2016 Singapore Sevens final.

He boasted of 15 years of experience as a coach and a player.

As a player, Ayimba turned out for local and international clubs with a stint in United Kingdom.

#RIPAyimba?

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