16 August 2018

Kenya: Ruto Leads Mourners as Hurdles Star Bett is Laid to Rest

Photo: Jared Nyataya/Daily Nation
Police carry a casket bearing the remains of the late Nicholas Bett, former World 400m hurdles champion, on arrival at their home in Simat, Uasin Gishu County, as Bett’s wife Gladys Bett second (right) and mother Esther Boit follow on August 15, 2018.

Deputy President William Ruto is expected to lead mourners at today's burial of former world hurdles champion Nicholas Bett at the athlete's Simat home in Uasin Gishu County.

A top source in the DP's office said Mr Ruto will lead other government officials at the burial.

"I can confirm that the DP will be attending Bett's burial. He will also deliver a message from President Uhuru Kenyatta to his family, friends and relatives," said official.


Bett died in a road accident along the Cengalo-Lessos-Kapsabet road as he travelled home after arriving from Nigeria where he represented the country at the 21st African Athletics Championships.

A sombre mood engulfed Eldoret as the hearse carrying the athlete's body snaked its way through the town.

The hearse, led by a police outrider passed through Uganda Road before branching onto Oginga Odinga and Nandi streets all the way to the Rivatex-Ndalat road where those who walked from the Eldoret Hospital's mortuary boarded vehicles and headed to Bett's home some 15 kilometres away.

The Kenyan track and field team that represented the country in Asaba, Nigeria -- led by javelin champion Julius Yego -- donned the official team uniform and led the way holding the Kenyan flag.


Other athletes and friends wore black T-shirts with Bett's photo printed on the front.

Bett was part of the Kenyan team in Asaba where he reached the final of his 400 metres hurdles speciality but was forced out by an injury 100 metres to the finish line.

Family members, relatives and Bett's colleagues from the National Police Service, led by the service's Directorate of Logistics, Joseph Kiget, were in the convoy.

They were accompanied by police officers dressed in their ceremonial attire.

Bett will be accorded a burial in full police tradition today. Local residents turned out in large numbers and lined up along the roads to pay their last respect to the athlete.


A team of police officers, dressed in ceremonial uniforms, had arrived in Eldoret Wednesday morning from Kisumu County where Bett was attached at the Kondele Police Station.

Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi was among leaders from the region who arrived at the mortuary to pay his last respects.

Bett has left a widow Gladys Bett and two children, Nicole Chepkoech (eight) and Nerius Chep-chirchir (three).

Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago described Bett as one of the world's best athletes who will be remembered for his good performances that culminated in a gold medal in the 400 metres hurdles at the 2015 World Athletics Championships in Beijing, Kenya's first in this track event.

"The sudden death of the athlete is a big shock to the entire athletics fraternity and I know he has left a big gap," said Mr Mandago.

He further said his county had undertaken to assist in the funeral arrangements, including constructing a road to the athlete's home.

Others who helped in burial preparations are Athletics Kenya and National Police Service where Bett worked as a corporal.

"The county government of Uasin Gishu will chip in during the preparations so that the athlete may be given the best send-off since he was a star in the athletics fraternity," said Mr Mandago.


Over the last week, the county government's road construction machinery equipment has been dispatched to renovate the road leading to Bett's home ahead of today's burial.

Nandi Governor Stephen Sang also sent a message of condolence to Bett's family.

"Bett who lost his life through a tragic road accident made history at the 2015 world championships by winning the 400 metres hurdles, becoming the first Kenyan to claim a world championships gold at a distance shorter than 800m," said Mr Sang.

Mr Sudi said that it was tragic losing a young athlete.

"I know he was able to inspire a lot of youths and everybody loved him but we have to accept that he is no more," said Sudi.

His Kesses counterpart Dr Swarup Mishra said that the nation had lost a hero and an icon.

"Let me officially convene my heartfelt condolence to the family and friends at this trying times," said Mr Mishra.

County Assembly Speaker David Kiplagat reiterated that Bett earned the country great hon-ours.

"I pray that God will grant his family, relatives, residents of Uasin Gishu and the Nation at large the strength to overcome the pain of this unfortunate loss.

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