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Kenya’s former 400m hurdles world champion Nicholas Bett dies after car crash

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Kenya’s gold medallist Nicholas Bett at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China

Kenya’s former 400m hurdles world champion, Nicholas Bett, has died after a car crash Wednesday.

Local police commander Patrick Wambani reported that Bett, aged 28, was killed after his car struck a bump and veered off the road near Nandi County in Kenya’s high-altitude North Rift region.

Bett had only just returned home from the African Senior Championships in Nigeria on Monday.

Following reports of the accident, Kenya’s Athletics governing body confirmed Bett’s death on Twitter, sending condolences to his family and the entire athletics fellowship.

Kenya’s deputy president, Williams Ruto also expressed his sympathy over Bett’s death, calling it “a big loss to his family, friends, Kenya and the global athletics fraternity,” on Twitter.

The International Athletics Foundation also said it was “deeply saddened and shocked to hear,” of Bett’s passing in a post on Twitter.

The IAAF is deeply saddened and shocked to hear that Kenya’s 2015 world 400m hurdles champion Nicholas Bett, 28, died in a car accident on Tuesday (7). RIP.

Bett made history at the World Championships in Beijing in 2015 after taking gold in the 400m hurdles, the first ever for a Kenyan.

He also won two bronze medals at the 2014 African championships in Marrakech, Morocco in the 400 hurdles and 4×400-meter relay.

Bett did not make the podium at the African Championships in Nigeria.

His twin, Aron Koech, also an international hurdler, took the honors as part of the Kenyan team that won gold in 4×400m event, adding to Kenya’s final tally of 11 golds, two more than South Africa and hosts Nigeria.

 

World mourns hurdles champ Bett, Kenya’s sprints trailblazer

Kenya’s gold medallist Nicholas Bett at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China

The world athletics governing body IAAF, organisers of the recently concluded African Athletics Championships in Nigeria and the South African athletics federation are among organisations and individuals that yesterday mourned the demise of former world hurdles champion Nicholas Bett.

Bett, 28, who was driving home from Nairobi in the early hours of Wednesday, died in a road accident near Lessos, Nandi County, along the Cengalo/Lessos/Kapsabet road.

Sports and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa also condoled Bett as a “promising athlete.”

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) expressed shock and sadness upon learning of the 400 metres hurdler’s death.

“The IAAF is deeply saddened and shocked to hear that Kenya’s 2015 world 400m hurdles champion Nicholas Bett, 28, died in a car accident. RIP,” the IAAF tweeted.

In a statement issued by Olukayode Thomas, the head of media and publicity for the African Athletics Championships in Asaba, the championships’ local organising committee chairman, Solomon Ogba, said the sudden demise of Bett was a big blow not just to Kenya but to the rest of Africa.

“We were deeply touched when we heard the news of Bett’s death on Wednesday,” Ogba said.

“Coming at a time when the athletics family in Kenya are still celebrating their heroic performance in Asaba, it is painful that the former world champion is no longer around to savour this magic moment with the rest of his colleagues.”

Echesa said Bett had stunned many locally and internationally.

“Bett can be well remembered for his continued partnering with his twin brother Haron Koech in numerous world events including the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil,” Echesa said in a statement.

“This is a big blow to the entire Kenyan fraternity who have lost a promising athlete who was at a very early stages of his career.”

UHURU, RUTO PAY GLOWING TRIBUTE TO BETT

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto also paid glowing tribute to Bett.

Athletics South Africa (ASA) described Bett’s death as a big blow to African athletics.

Bett trained for long periods in South Africa. “This are sad news and most difficult to swallow,” said Aleck Skhosana, the President of ASA, in a statement. “It is a big blow to African athletics, to Kenya and the world.

“In particular, we had expected him to grow to become one of the best in the coaching of 400m athletes in benefit of Kenyan and all athletes in the continent and beyond upon retirement. We remember him also for winning the bronze medals at the African championships in 2014 in the 400 hurdles and 4x400m relay.

“We express our deepest condolences to his twin brother Aron, the Bett family, Athletics Kenya and the rest of the nation for this tragic and unexpected loss.”

Bett, the 2014 Africa 400 metres hurdles bronze medallist, died only two days after arriving in the country with the Kenyan team that topped the medal standings at the African Athletics Championships that ended on Sunday in Asaba.

He reached the final of his specialty but failed to finish the race after he sustained an injury with 100 metres to go as his brother Aaron Koech finished fourth.

Athletics Kenya president Jackson Tuwei said Bett’s victory at the 2015 Beijing World Championships inspired a generation where young athletes have come to love the hurdles.

“Bett’s death is a big blow to world of sports especially after his performance in 2015 that proved a game changer in sprints events in the country,” said Tuwei adding that his death came at a time Kenya was still celebrating having topped the African Championships standings in Asaba.

“He has explained to me that he suffered a hamstring injury on the last bend during the final in Asaba. He was actually going for gold. He promised to treat the injury and come back strong,” said Tuwei, who send his condolence to his family and athletics fraternity.

Tuwei said since Bett was a police officer, he has already discussed with National Police Service athletics chairman Joseph Kiget about the athlete’s death and will join hands to ensure Bett gets a befitting send-off.

Stephen Mwaniki, Kenya’s head coach in Asaba, said Bett made Kenyans believe in sprinters. “It is sad to head about the demise of our former world champion Nicholas Bett. He made Kenyans believe in sprinters. May the almighty God give peace to his brother Aron and his family,” said Mwaniki.

Athletics Kenya Nairobi chairman Barnaba Korir said: “It’s difficult to take this. I talked to him yesterday when he was going to see the doctor for his injury. My condolences to his wife and the whole family for such a loss.”

Former world javelin champion Julius Yego, who won gold in Asaba, said Bett was his room-mate when they made history, winning two world titles at the World Championships in Beijing.

“Dark morning horrifying news! Can’t believe it it’s real but go rest with the angels @Nicholas Bett! Am shocked beyond word! My roommate in Beijing when we won gold together and it was just the other day we were in Nigeria now you no more,” said Yego on Facebook.

 

-www.nation.co.ke

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