Running Stars and Mourners Gather to Bid Farewell to Ugandan Athlete Benjamin Kiplagat – The Ankole Times

Running Stars and Mourners Gather to Bid Farewell to Ugandan Athlete Benjamin Kiplagat

Friday, January 12, 2024

The funeral of Ugandan Olympic distance runner Benjamin Kiplagat took place on Thursday in Kenya, drawing top Kenyan and Ugandan athletes, as well as mourners from both nations. The Kenyan-born 34-year-old, known for his specialization in the 3,000m steeplechase, was tragically found dead with a stab wound to his neck near Eldoret in the Rift Valley on December 31. Two individuals are currently in custody, facing accusations of his murder.

Kiplagat’s casket was solemnly transported in a convoy from Eldoret to his ancestral home of Kamendi, covering a distance of approximately 60 kilometers (40 miles). Notable figures in attendance included Kenya’s two-time Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge, Olympic and world 1,500m champion Faith Kipyegon, and former three-time world 3000m steeplechase champion Moses Kiptanui.

Expressing grief at the ceremony, Kiptanui, who had coached Kiplagat in the early stages of his running career, remarked, “This death is very painful. All of us have come here to mourn a hero – somebody who gave his life to run and make the two countries known – especially the country of Uganda.”

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Top Ugandan athletics officials and runners also paid their respects to Kiplagat, who had represented the nation at three Olympic Games and six World Championships. Ugandan athletics coach Aggrey Ogol highlighted Kiplagat’s historic achievement in 2007, where he broke the national 3,000m steeplechase record that had stood for 30 years.

Uganda’s world 5,000m and 10,000m record holder Joshua Cheptegei used the occasion to call on Kenyan authorities to enhance security around athletes training in the Eldoret area, emphasizing the need to protect sports heroes. Cheptegei stated, “We are saying enough is enough. We’ve lost a lot of our colleagues. I think you should have a discussion to see how the law can deal with these issues. We cannot keep losing our heroes.”

Kiplagat’s tragic death follows the killing of Kenyan distance running star Agnes Tirop in October 2021. Tirop was found stabbed to death at the age of 25 in her home at Iten, near Eldoret. Her husband Ibrahim Rotich is currently on trial for her murder, having denied the charge.

Two suspects in Kiplagat’s case appeared in court last week and were ordered detained for 21 days to allow the police to continue their investigations. Benjamin Kiplagat leaves behind an expectant wife, Viola, and a 13-year-old daughter.

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