NAIROBI• • Kenya's record-breaking distance runner Agnes Tirop was found dead yesterday with stab wounds to her stomach in a suspected homicide, athletics officials said.
Tirop, 25, was a fast-rising athlete - a double world 10,000m bronze medallist and 2015 world cross-country champion who also finished fourth in the 5,000m at the Tokyo Olympics this year after clocking 14min 39.62sec in the final.
Only last month, she smashed the women-only 10km world record at the Road to Records Event in Germany, with a time of 30:01, slicing 28 seconds off the previous record, Athletics Kenya said.
Tirop also made history in 2015 when she became the second-youngest ever gold medallist in the women's cross-country championships after South Africa's Zola Budd.
She was found dead at her home in the high altitude training town of Iten in western Kenya. Local reports say Tirop had been living at an athletics camp after differences with her husband but returned home two days ago following reconciliation efforts by relatives and friends.
"Kenya has lost a jewel who was one of the fastest rising athletics giants on the international stage, thanks to her eye-catching performances on the track," Athletics Kenya said in a statement.
"We are still working to unearth more details about her demise."
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta paid tribute to the young athlete and urged the police to track down those behind her death.
"It is unsettling, utterly unfortunate and very sad that we've lost a young and promising athlete who, at a young age of 25 years, had brought our country so much glory through her exploits on the global athletics stage," he said in a statement.
"It is even more painful that Agnes, a Kenyan hero by all measures, painfully lost her young life through a criminal act perpetuated by selfish and cowardly people."
On Saturday, another Kenyan long-distance runner Hosea Mwok Macharinyang, a member of the country's record-breaking world cross-country team, died of what Kenyan athletics officials said was suicide. The 35-year-old was found in his home in West Pokot county in Kenya.
"He was such a brilliant athlete, committed to the sport where he competed for Kenya for many years in both cross-country and the 5,000m and 10,000m races," Jackson Pkemoi, the West Pokot representative of Athletics Kenya, told AFP.
Macharinyang made a record eight appearances and won three consecutive team titles for Kenya in the World Cross-Country Championships from 2006 to 2008.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, XINHUA