Nicholas Bett the latest road tragedy for Kenyan track
Former world champion hurdler Nicholas Bett’s death Wednesday at the age of 28 in a car accident isn’t the first road tragedy for Kenyan track. It’s also not the first this year.
Here’s a look at some other Kenyan runners killed in or involved in car crashes:
Distance runner Francis Kiplagat was one of six people to die in a road accident in February on the highway between Nairobi and the Rift Valley region, where most of the country’s top athletes live and train. Kiplagat, who was 28, was traveling back to the high-altitude city of Eldoret in a small bus after going to Nairobi to get a travel visa he needed for a competition. Authorities said multiple vehicles were involved in the crash. Kiplagat was a marathon and half marathon runner and had nine career victories.
David Lelei, a silver medalist in the 1,500 meters at the 1999 All-Africa Games, was killed on the same highway in 2010 when the vehicle he was in collided with a truck’s trailer. Lelei had retired from track and field and was an athletics official and political candidate at the time of his death. He was 38. Moses Tanui, the 1991 world champion in the 10,000 meters, was traveling with Lelei and suffered serious chest and leg injuries but survived the crash.
Cross-country runner Jefferson Siekei was killed along with a training partner in 2009 when the motorcycle they were riding collided head-on with a truck. They were traveling to a competition. Siekei, who was 25, had moved to Japan and was in Kenya on vacation when he decided to go and run at the small, provincial competition. He was one of Kenya’s most promising cross-country runners at the time and a medal hope for the 2009 world championships.
Paul Tergat, a former world-record holder in the marathon and the 10,000 meters and a two-time Olympic silver medalist, survived a serious crash near Eldoret in 2010. Tergat hit a truck in his Mercedes and suffered a leg injury which forced him into retirement. He called it “a miracle” he survived. Tergat is now the president of the Kenyan Olympic committee.
Associated Press writer Mutwiri Mutuota in Nairobi, Kenya, contributed to this report.