Uhuru, Raila lead Kenyans in paying tribute to fallen Kiplagat


Suspended Athletics Kenya President, Isaiah Kiplagat
Former AK President, Isaiah Kiplagat at a past function at Riadha House federation headquarters in Nairobi.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, his Deputy, William Ruto and opposition leader, Raila Odinga, were among leaders who mourned fallen long-serving Athletics Kenya (AK) boss; Isaiah Fundi Kiplagat in paying tribute to the man who altered the landscape of the sport in the country.

Kiplagat succumbed to cancer on Wednesday in his Karen home in Nairobi after a long battle with the disease.

 

“My thoughts and prayers are with the family, relatives and friends. May the Almighty God rest his soul in eternal peace. Today we mourn the loss of Isaiah Kiplagat, the former President of Athletics Kenya who passed on this morning,” the Head of State wrote on his Twitter account.

“My heartfelt condolences to the family & friends of Isaiah Kiplagat & to the extended @athletics_kenya. We have lost a champion & a leader,” his deputy added on the micro-blogging site.

In his message, Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) leader; Raila Odinga reminisced how he served the sport alongside the no-nonsense administrator who led the country’s most successful federation for 24 years.

“In that period with the athletics fraternity and Mr Kiplagat, and in the years that followed till his death yesterday (Wednesday), I came to know him as a man who was truly committed and dedicated to promoting sports and particularly athletics in Kenya. Mr Kiplagat was keen to see young people develop and benefit from their God given talents.

“In the process, he became the father of modern day athletics in Kenya and made it a national obsession, a source of pride in Kenya and the envy of the rest of the world,” the former Prime Minister recollected.

“None of us is perfect. Mr Kiplagat was certainly not perfect. Heading an organization as big as Athletics Kenya and which is always in the eyes and minds of Kenyans and international community, he faced numerous challenges.

“But I believe he dealt with the challenges in the best way he knew and with the success and greater glory of Kenya in mind. In his death, Kenya has lost a committed statesman and a great sports administrator. I wish peace and comfort to his family as we mourn this great Kenyan. May he find eternal peace,” the Cord leader who once served as a Nairobi official in the Kenya Amateur Athletics Association, the fore runner to AK, eulogised.

“We learnt with deep sorrow the passing-on of our former President Mr. Isaiah F Kiplagat. #RIPIsaiahKiplagat

“We shall always remember Mr Isaiah Kiplagat as an advocate and promoter of athletics in Kenya, in Eastern Region of Africa, Africa and the world,” the simple message from the federation he led from 1992 until November last year when he was suspended by the Ethics Board of world body, IAAF, said.

His former deputy and long-serving AK secretary general, David Okeyo, lauded the impact the IAAF Council member from 1999 to 2015 had in shaping Kenya’s athletics.

“Mr. Kiplagat was a good friend and I used to visit him nearly twice a week in his final days and the public should have spoken good things about the man when he was still alive. The gap he left will be definitely be felt,” Okeyo told Citizen Digital.

“He was a very tough and fearless man; he really wanted things to move on as they were supposed to. If he was still around right now our athletes would not have been treated the way they were in Rio. In the long run he had the good of athletics at heart,” Okeyo was sanctioned alongside his boss said.

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Story By Eric Kagunda
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