Record-breaking Kenyan distance runner Agnes Tirop was found dead Wednesday with stab wounds to her stomach in a suspected homicide, athletics officials said.
Tirop, 25, was a fast-rising athlete — a double world 10,000m bronze medallist and 2015 world cross county champion who also finished fourth in the 5,000m at the Tokyo Olympics this year.
Police are treating Agnes Jebet Tirop’s husband as a “suspect” after the Olympic star was found dead at her home in Kenya.
On Wednesday, crime scene investigators were at Tirop’s home – with police saying she had been reported missing by her father the night before.
“When [police] got in the house, they found Tirop on the bed and there was a pool of blood on the floor,” Tom Makori, head of police for the area, said.
“They saw she had been stabbed in the neck, which led us to believe it was a knife wound, and we believe that is what caused her death.
“Her husband is still at large, and preliminary investigations tell us her husband is a suspect because he cannot be found. Police are trying to find her husband so he can explain what happened to Tirop.”
Only last month, she smashed the women-only 10 km world record at the Road to Records Event in Germany, with a time of 30:01, slicing 28 seconds off the previous record, Athletics Kenya said.
Tirop also made history in 2015 when she became the second-youngest ever gold medallist in the women’s cross country championships after South Africa’s Zola Budd.
She was found dead at her home in the high altitude training town of Iten in western Kenya.
“Kenya has lost a jewel who was one of the fastest rising athletics giants on the international stage, thanks to her eye-catching performances on the track,” Athletics Kenya said in a statement.
“We are still working to unearth more details about her demise.”
– ‘A Kenyan hero’ –
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta paid tribute to the young athlete and urged the police to track down those behind her death.
“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, she had brought our country so much glory through her exploits on the global athletics stage,” he said in a statement.
“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,” he said.
On Saturday, another Kenyan long-distance athlete Hosea Mwok Macharinyang, a member of the country’s record-breaking world cross country team, died of what Kenyan athletics officials said was suicide.
Macharinyang, 35, was found in his home in West Pokot in western Kenya.
“He was such a brilliant athlete, committed to the sport where he competed for Kenya for many years in both cross country and the 5,000m and 10,000m races,” Jackson Pkemoi, the West Pokot representative of Athletics Kenya, told AFP.
Macharinyang made a record eight appearances, and won three consecutive titles for Kenya in the World Cross Country Championships from 2006 to 2008.
Kenya is the most successful country in the cross country championships, having won 49 team and 27 individual titles.