Athletics legend Jipcho buried in Trans Nzoia
- A sombre mood Friday engulfed Kisawai village as Deputy President William Ruto led the mourners in eulogising the icon who brought fame to the country in the 60s and 70s
- Athletics Kenya President Jack Tuwei, who also did not attend the burial, eulogised the veteran as one of the pioneers who laid the foundation for Kenya's success in athletics
Kenya's athletics legend Ben Jipcho has been laid to rest at his rural home in Kisawai village in Kitale, Trans Nzoia County.
A sombre mood Friday engulfed Kisawai village as Deputy President William Ruto led the mourners in eulogising the icon who brought fame to the country in the 60s and 70s.
Jipcho died last Friday in Eldoret's Fountain Hospital where he had been admitted after his organs failed due to stomach cancer.
Ruto said the government recognised Jicpho's heroics and urged the Ministry of Sports to hasten the payment of heroes and heroines.
"Jipcho made the country proud when he was competing with the likes of Kipchoge Keino and his efforts did not go unrecognized. The ministry needs to hasten any plan of rewarding the legends who used to compete without any pay," said Ruto.
He added that all podium finishers in major international competitions will be rewarded by the government with those winning gold getting Sh1 million, silver medallists Sh500,000 while bronze medallists will receive Sh250,000.
But 1987 All Africa Games 400 metres silver medallist Rose Muya Tata was not amused that Jipcho died while waiting for the money promised by the government.
"It's a pity that we are burying an icon today who didn't get any help from the government. Personally I have been following on the kitty which was to be released next week and it's sad he died before getting his cash," said Tata.
Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed in a statement read on her behalf by Harry Kimutai who is the Principal Secretary in Ministry of Livestock said:
"Ben Jipcho will be remembered as one of the most accomplished athletes of our time whose excellence put Kenya on the global sporting map at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City as the country was emerging as a global sporting powerhouse.
"Kenya has lost a formidable sportsman whose un-relenting pursuit of athletic excellence inspired a generation of phenomenal athletes who continue to elevate the flag of our country internationally. The Ministry has provided support to his family through the Veterans Cash Awards Scheme and will honour his memory as a national hero," she said.
Athletics Kenya President Jack Tuwei, who also did not attend the burial, eulogised the veteran as one of the pioneers who laid the foundation for Kenya's success in athletics.
"It's sad we have lost one of the athletes who put Kenya on the limelight in the 60s and he will be remembered for his exploits in various events he participated in," said Tuwei in a statement read by Nandi County Sports Chief Officer Kennedy Tanui.
Jipcho will be remembered for his exemplary performance acting as a pacemaker for Kipchoge Keino during the 1968 Olympics Games who went on to win the 1,500m race beating favourite Jim Ryun as Jipcho finished in 10th position.
In 1972, Jipcho was again on the limelight after bagging silver medal in the 3,000m steeplechase behind Kipchoge Keino in the Munich Olympic Games.
He later participated in the All Africa Games in 1973 in Lagos where he won gold in the 5,000m race.
During the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch in New Zealand, Jipcho proved that he was the athlete to beat after he bagged two gold medals in 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase race while getting a bronze medal in the 1,500m race.