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Kirui takes medal home, met by jubilant admirers

By | August 28th 2009

By Joseph Ngure and Titus Too

"Watch out. We are coming. The AP presence in athletics will be felt soon."

This is the warning by the newly-crowned World marathon champion to other Athletics Kenya affiliates as the hero received a colourful homecoming after his exploits in Berlin this month.

True to his words, Administration Police took over from their regular counterparts in controlling athletics fans in Eldoret and Kapsabet towns as the champion toured the two agricultural towns in the North Rift region.

Still basking in his new status of a sergeant a day after he was promoted, Abel Kirui, accompanied by team mate and silver medal winner, Emmanuel Mutai, arrived at the hitherto sleepy Eldoret Airport to a warm welcome.

"Abel is a God-given gift not only to me but to all Kenyans. I almost smashed our neighbour’s television, trying to hug him in the TV after he won the race," said his jovial mother, Romana Koech, 56.

Moments of anxiety

Abel Kirui holds his son Kevin, his wife Stella Jemeli (centre) and Emmanuel Mutai after arriving in Eldoret International Airport Thursday. [PHOTO: PETER OCHIENG/STANDARD]

Moments of anxiety engulfed the airport as Administration Police officers, led by Eldoret East Commandant Rashid Abdullahi, athletics fans and Kirui’s relatives waited for him to arrive.

Compared to last year when thousands flocked the under-utilised airport to received 800m Golden League and Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo, only a handful gathered yesterday to welcome yet another great son from the area.

The Jetlink aeroplane that the champion boarded touched down at 8:45am, but it was after 15 minutes that the dark, slim marathoner, sandwiched between Mosop Member of Parliament David Koech and his wife, Stella Jemeli and 14-month-old son Tevin Kipchumba, appeared.

Veteran track coach Colm O’Connell and former Central Bank Governor, Micah Cheserem, who travelled in the same flight, were caught unawares as they alighted from the aeroplane.

After a brief ceremony that involved the sipping of the traditional sour milk (Mursik), the champion addressed the Press and promised Kenyans the country would bring back the world record.

World record

"I am happy to be recognised by my seniors for winning. We will work together for the world record," he vowed.

His coach, Amos Korir, paid tribute to Kirui, saying the winning was a result of hard work and sacrifice.

"I had hope in him after he managed 2:05:04 in Amsterdam marathon in April. Ranked sixth in the world, he is the best runner Kenyans had," said the coach.

Koech, also the Parliamentary Education Committee chairman, said the country is taking sports seriously, prompting Parliament to set time to deliberate on the team performance on Wednesday.

From the airport, Kirui’s entourage, led by police out-rider blaring sirens, headed for Eldoret town as curious people who lined up the streets, watched.

In a convoy of about 50 cars that included six AP Land-Rovers, the party paid a courtesy call on Uasin Gishu DC’s office before stopping at Eldoret Mayor’s Parlour.

After an hour in Eldoret, the champion headed to Kapsabet town through Mosoriot, Chepterit and Nabkoi.

The homecoming party was to take place at his Nabkoi home, 2km East of Kapsabet town.



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