Athletics world mourns distance runner Agnes Tirop: “Kenya has lost a jewel”

The 25-year-old was found dead in her home in Kenya just 10 days after her last race in Switzerland.

By Evelyn Watta
Picture by GETTY IMAGES +491728296845

Agnes Tirop, a distance runner who represented Kenya at the Tokyo Olympics has died at the age of 25.

The two-time World bronze medallist was allegedly stabbed to death at her home in Iten.

In September 2021, Tirop shattered a long-standing women-only 10km world record at the Adizero Road To Records event in Germany.

Her time of 30:01 shaved 28 seconds from the previous record held by Morocco's Asmae Leghzaoui set in 2002.

Eye-catching performances

Her last race was on 3 October at the 'The Giants Geneva, Genève 10km run' where she finished third.

Athletics Kenya confirmed the news of Tirop’s suspected murder on Wednesday 13 October, adding that they “were still working to unearth more details” on her death.

"Kenya has lost a jewel,” Athletics Kenya said in a statement.

“She was one of the fastest-rising athletics giants on the international stage thanks to her eye-catching performances on the track.”- Athletics Kenya.

Tirop, considered one of the most talented Kenyan distance runners, first represented Kenya as a junior when she was only 16 at the African Cross-Country Championships in 2012, where she earned silver.

The talented runner closed her debut year with bronze in the 5000m at the World U20 Championships in Barcelona.

She added another bronze at the World U20 Championships in Oregon in 2014 before moving up to the senior ranks.

The world record holder stepped up in style.

Tirop became the second-youngest winner of the senior women’s title at the 2015 World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang.

At the Olympic Games in Tokyo, she just missed the 5000m podium finishing fourth behind the winner Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands.

Kenyan President mourns Tirop

Her death shocked the nation with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta leading the tributes.

"It is unsettling, utterly unfortunate and very sad that we've lost a young and promising athlete who, at a young age of 25 years, had brought our country so much glory through her exploits on the global athletics stage including in this year's 2020 Tokyo Olympics where she was part of the Kenyan team," said Kenyatta.

"It is even more painful that Agnes, a Kenyan hero by all measures, painfully lost her young life through a criminal act perpetuated by selfish and cowardly people. I urge our law enforcement agencies led by the National Police Service to track down and apprehend the criminals responsible for the killing of Agnes."

World Athletics said they were deeply shocked and saddened by the untimely death

Several of her teammates expressed shock at her demise.

"I can't believe it, my friend Agnes Tirop, posted Hellen Obiri, the double Olympic silver medallist who raced with her several times including at the Olympic race.

"The forever luminous smile and face shall forever be in our hearts. You were humble, joyful and always a shinning and majestic runner," posted the 2015 World champion Julius Yego.