NAIROBI • Kenyan police were yesterday hunting for the husband of record-breaking runner Agnes Tirop, who was stabbed to death on Wednesday in an incident that has shocked her home country and the world of athletics.
Tirop's husband Ibrahim Kipchumba Rotich was named by police as a suspect in the death of the 25-year-old two-time World Championships medallist and Olympian, who has been hailed as a rising star cut short in her prime.
"We are closing in on the manhunt for the killer," Keiyo North police commander Tom Makori told Agence France-Presse yesterday, saying police were tracking down Rotich's phone signal.
"The sooner we get him to reveal the circumstance that led to the murder of the young girl, the better for all of us. We are under pressure to catch him."
Earlier yesterday, Makori told private-owned NTV Kenya Television that local police had been contacted by Rotich's family.
"We received a message from the family of Tirop's husband that the husband had phoned the parents while crying and asking that God forgive him as there is something bad he had done," he said.
"When police went to Tirop's house, they found her in bed with blood under the bed and a lot of it on the floor.
"When police looked at the body, it looked like she had been stabbed on the neck with what we suspect to be a knife."
Tirop was reported to have had "differences" with Rotich. Her body was found in the bedroom of her home in Iten in western Kenya, a high-altitude training hub for many top-class athletes.
"Murder of a champ," was the front-page headline in Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper.
She was killed just a month after she smashed the women-only 10km world record at an event in Germany, with a time of 30min 1sec, slicing 28 seconds off the previous record.
Tirop was a two-time world 10,000m bronze medallist and the 2015 world cross-country champion, making history when she became the second-youngest gold medallist in the women's event after Zola Budd. She finished fourth in the 5,000m at the Tokyo Olympics in August.
The US embassy in Nairobi also expressed its condolences, describing Tirop as "a figure of hope for women in sports".
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta also paid tribute to the young athlete.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS