17 August 2018

Kenya: Athletics Champ Laid to Rest as Ruto, Kenyatta Offer Goodies

A sombre mood Thursday engulfed Simat in Uasin Gishu County as hundreds of mourners paid their last respects to the 400m hurdles world champion Nicholas Bett who died in a road accident a week ago.

Deputy President William Ruto, Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa and several top athletes, among various leaders, attended the burial ceremony.

Most athletes could not hold back their tears as they laid to rest Mr Bett, who was a promising sportsman.

Those who eulogised Mr Bett recalled the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, China, where he won the 400m hurdles, beating renowned competitors.

EDUCATION KIT

That they were burying him less than two weeks after being part of a group of Kenyan athletes that topped the African Athletics Championships in Asaba, Nigeria, was too difficult to bear.

Mr Ruto, who conveyed President Uhuru Kenyatta's condolences to the family, said Mr Bett will be remembered for prospering in a crowded field.

"We have lost a hardworking athlete who was still young and had a bright future. He made the country proud after winning the gold medal in the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, China," said the DP.

He added that the government will support the family by funding a kitty to educate his children.

RECRUITMENT

"The government will start a kitty through the insurance cover (for police officers) and we will donate Sh2 million. I have brought the money in cash from the President and I. We want the children to have everything that their father would have provided if he was alive," added Mr Ruto.

He noted that the President had issued an order for the setting aside of 100 slots for athletes during the forthcoming recruitment exercises for all disciplined forces. He praised the sportsmen for promoting the country in various global competitions. "The President's order is to appreciate athletes because they have always done the country proud internationally," he said.

The DP noted that the three stadiums, Kipchoge Keino (Eldoret), Kipchoge (Kapsabet) and Kamariny (Iten), will be completed in the next one year, adding that the government, through the Ministry of Sports, was working on a policy which will be forwarded to the Cabinet for approval so that the projects could be completed on time.

REWARDED

Mr Echesa said that he was aware the athletes were facing lots of challenges but the ministry was already preparing policies to cater for their issues and improve the sector.

"We understand you are going through a lot of challenges under various managements but we are working on policies that will see athletes rewarded accordingly," said Echesa.

Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet praised Mr Bett, who was a police officer based in Kisumu, for balancing work and his sports career.

"Bett was a hardworking servant and at the same time an international athlete. We are going to reward the family by employing one of them in the National Police Service. That has been our tradition in the force. When our officer dies, we recruit one immediate family member," said Mr Boinnet.

STADIUM

Nandi Governor Stephen Sang promised to help the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) in the fight against the vice, saying it was ruining the country's name.

"As we mourn our hero who brought fame to the country, I also want to say that we are going to support agencies like ADAK in the fight against doping," said the governor.

His Uasin Gishu counterpart Jackson Mandago said that they will meet soon with the Sports CS and agree on how to complete the Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret.

"The second phase of Kipchoge Keino Stadium has stalled and we shall have a meeting so that we can see how to complete it."

The athletes need to use the facility and we have to speed up things," said Mr Mandago.

Other top government officials who were present included Lands Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney, Sports Principal Secretary Kirimi Kaberia and Uasin Gishu County senator Margaret Kamar.

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