Mourners and athletes demand justice for Kenyan star runner Agnes Tirop at funeral


The greats of the Olympic runner gathered on Saturday to bid farewell to rising Kenyan star Agnes Tirop, whose murder earlier this month shocked the entire country and the athletics world.

Tirop, a bronze medalist in two world championships and with a future on the track, was buried in a white coffin in central Kenya on what would have been her 26th birthday.

His body was found on October 13 with stab wounds in the bedroom of his home in Iten, a high-altitude training center for world-class athletes.

Tirop’s husband appeared in court this week as a suspect in her murder after being arrested and placed in pre-trial detention.

Among the mourners gathered in Mosoriot, the childhood village of Tirop about 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Eldoret, were two-time Olympic champion David Rudisha from Kenya and gold medalists Joshua Cheptegei and Peruth Chemutai from Uganda.

Many in the congregation wore the red Athletics Kenya T-shirts, which described Tirop as a “gem” and one of the fastest-rising stars on the international racing circuit.

His death unleashed a wave of grief and condolences from Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, but also anger at a life taken so young.

Passionate speakers at her funeral demanded swift justice for Tirop, and large crowds marched in Eldoret on Friday calling for an end to violence against women.

Tirop’s death has highlighted the pressures facing female athletes across the country that pay a huge, and often tragic, price for their spectacular success in a male-dominated society.

“The injustice against female athletes here in Kenya is a threat to all athletes around the world,” said 5000-meter Olympic champion Cheptegei.

“We are here in solidarity to show that we condemn such acts in that way.”

Athletics Kenya announced on Saturday that the Kenyan leg of the World Cross Country Tour would be named after Tirop.

Born into a peasant family, Tirop launched her career in athletics less than a decade ago, but quickly rose to second place in national and international cross-country races.

She became one of Kenya’s rising stars, as the 2015 world cross country champion, a two-time world medalist in 10,000m, and came fourth in the 5,000m at the Tokyo Olympics this year.