Rio 1500m queen Faith Kipyegon in roaring home welcome

Nakuru Governor, Kinuthia Mbugua (second right) receives the Olympics gold medal from Faith Kipyegon at ...
Nakuru Governor, Kinuthia Mbugua (second right) receives the Olympics gold medal from Faith Kipyegon at his offices on Saturday. PHOTO/Michael Bowen

The quiet hamlet of Ndabibit in Kuresoi South Constituency was sparked to life when thousands of locals came out to give Rio 2016 women 1500m Olympics gold medallist, Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon a roaring reception after returning from her biggest conquest yet.

Before her convoy snaked into her home village, Nakuru County pulled all stops to accord her a heroine’s reception with County boss, Kinuthia Mbugua, hosted the Beijing 2015 Worlds silver medallist after she was paraded through the streets of the country’s third largest city.

The calm serenity of Ndabibit was rudely shattered by the blaring of sirens as police vehicles and motorbike outriders led the snaking convoy into the windy village that had waited patiently for its most famous inhabitant to arrive.

Earlier, Kipyegon, the two-time world junior champion had started her homecoming tour in Naivasha before she made her triumphant entry into Nakuru where she was feted like a queen.

Not even the rains that fell in her home village dampened the occasion despite delaying the programme as merry makers sought shelter.

Cabinet Secretary for Energy moved first to ensure power was installed at her home soon after she out-sprinted Ethiopia’s world champion and record holder, Genzebe Dibaba for the top medal in Brazil for her biggest victory yet.

Locals said other goodies that came from the Government in honour of Kipyegon’s memorable triumph include pouring murram to the road leading to the Commonwealth champion.

Proceeding were kicked off by a mass service with her shy parents telling of how proud they were following their daughters epic achievement.

Chamgei FM listeners kept abreast with proceedings as they happened via live links through out Saturday as congratulatory messages filled the station.

World men 400m Hurdles champion, Nicholas Bett, was among those who accompanied Kipyegon on her colourful homecoming.

“Am so grateful for Faith and to God for bringing her back home safely. She has always been the light in our family and am so proud of her achievements. Welcome home, Faith, and to everyone else that have been brought here by my daughter otagatin kila ak kila (you are always welcome),” her mother, Linah Koech said, addressing the crowd that gathered to cheer the Olympic champion during her grand homecoming.

And light she had been even for her country. With reigning Commonwealth champion and teammate, Violah Lagat failing to get past the semifinal stage of the women’s 1,500m race in Rio, Kipyegon was left to carry the weight of an expectant nation. And against the odds she stunned Dibaba who had appeared in control, solidly beating her to the gold medal.

“Pride is all I have now for my daughter whose shine has let the world know who we are and even led them here today. In fact, it is because of her that our home got an electricity connection just the other day. The Cabinet Secretary for energy, Charles Keter and his team visited our area and in this regard I have a lot of respect for you, my daughter. I give you my blessings,” a delighted father of Kipyegon, Samuel Kipyegon Koech, said.

-True Champion-

Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon who won the gold medal in the Women's 1500m Final during the Rio 2016 Olympics alongside Nakuru County Governor, Kinuthia Mbugua [PHOTO/Carol Kones]
Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon who won the gold medal in the Women’s 1500m Final during the Rio 2016 Olympics alongside Nakuru County Governor, Kinuthia Mbugua [PHOTO/Carol Kones]

Nakuru County Governor, Kinuthia Mbugua, lauded Kipyegon as a ‘champion with a good foundation’ noting that she has been a consistent performer.

“She is a true champion and has brought much honor to the County of Nakuru. I want to declare that we shall support everyone who has the talent and ensure the sport is fully funded starting from the ward level.

“I would like to thank Kuresoi South and North for the support they accorded our champion and for agreeing to come together. Much appreciation also goes to Team Chamgei for also coming to support all of us,” Kinuthia stated.

As she took to the podium, wild cheers and jubilation reduced a delightful Kipyegon to smiles and waves.

“I don’t know where to start or end. I am so happy today to see you all. I didn’t expect this much of a crowd; you have shown me your love and that’s the motivation I need to keep working hard to bring home more glory,” the seventh born in a family of eight said.

Athletics Kenya (AK) officials present pleaded with the county government to help the community set up an up-to standard training field to tap into more talent within the region, pleading that there needed to be more transparency in the transfer of funds allocated to sports.

-Additional reporting by Carol Kones

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