Minutes after the funeral of Kenya’s darling of women’s marathon running Agnes Tirop, family members and a small crowd of mourners gathered in her village, marking her burial in the same church in which she had been baptized. Tirop had died on Nov. 14. She was 26 and was a two-time world champion in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter races.
Tirop was running at the World Championships in London on Aug. 4 when she collapsed and died. News reports of her death were initially contradictory, with Kenyan newspapers reporting that the athlete had died from a severe reaction to medication and that she was not running drugs, before her family and agent, Jesse Ekwerike, made the official announcement on the morning of Aug. 5.
After the World Championships ended, local news channels carried footage of Tirop’s father, Gishina, draped in the Kenyan flag placing flowers on his daughter’s coffin, including a single star. In an interview with Kenyan media, the grief-stricken father remembered his daughter, a self-described athlete: “She was the best athlete this country ever had. If she was an astronaut, she would be far higher than the moon.”
“I was the only one who went to defend her,” said Esie Margara, a long-time neighbor of Tirop in Siaya county, in the eastern part of Kenya. “I went there with a group of people to take pictures of her, because it was difficult to take one with you.”
Celebrities and politicians sent their condolences to the family and friends, including Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta. Politicians who had previously mocked him during elections now issued somber tributes. Former President Daniel arap Moi, who many saw as insensitive to issues affecting women and disadvantaged communities, wrote: “My heart goes out to the members of the Tirop family.” Tirop’s recent book, My Run, a memoir about her life, raised suspicions that this was a planned attack, but officials have ruled out any link.
Racing minister Wycliffe Oparanya said he hoped Tirop’s body would be returned to Kenya.
Read the full story at The Guardian.
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