Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa led residents of Trans-Nzoia County to mourn the death of the former Olympics 3,000 steeplechase silver medallist as Ben Jipcho.
The sports legend passed on at Fountain Hospital in Eldoret Uasin Gishu County where he had been hospitalized on Wednesday.
Last week, Jipcho developed blockage in his stomach and was rushed to Crystal Hospital in Kitale after which he was referred to Eldoret after his condition worsened.
Eugene said jipcho will be remembered for motivating many Kenyans in the 60s and 70s with his steering track performance.
“He was a patriot. He mentored many youths and he diligently served this country. It is sad we have lost him,” Eugene mourned.
Endebess Member of Parliament Dr. Robert Pukose said Jipcho was instrumental in inspiring and nurturing some youths from the Sabaot community to become renowned athletes.
‘’As a community we have lost a sport legend. He exposed many from our community to running talent. We join the family to mourn him,’’ said Dr. Pukose.
Trans-Nzoia county executive member for Tourism and sports Mr. Protus Chemonges described the late Jipcho as a big asset to the sporting industry and his contribution to promote athletics will be missed.
“While working as chief officer for sports in Bungoma County, I worked closely with Jipcho during the construction of Chemoge Sports Centre. He was very passionate about the success of sports in the country,’’ said Chemonges.
Former Cherangany MP Wesley Korir, 2012 BAA Boston Marathon winner said the athletic fraternity has lost a pillar.
‘Jipcho gave us a foundation which we used to build our running career. We have lost a pillar that will be hard to replace,’’ Korir mourned.
A sober mood engulfed Jipcho’s Kassawai village in Saboti Constituency, as residents were shocked with his certain death.
Jipcho started his athletics career in the 60s and will be remembered as one of the first unofficial pacemakers after sacrificing chances of winning a medal to his compatriot Kipchoge Keino in the 1,500m race during the 1968 Olympics Games.
In 1970, Jipcho won a silver medal in the 3,000m steeplechase at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games before settling second at the 1972 Olympic Games held in Munich where he also participated in the 3,000m steeplechase.
In 1973, he participated in the All Africa Games in Lagos, Nigeria where he enrolled for two races bagging gold medals in the 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase.
In 1974, he bagged gold medals in the 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase races and a bronze medal in the 1,500 m race during the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch in New Zealand.