Kenya’s first Olympic Games 3,000m steeplechase champion Amos Biwott was full of praise for the fallen hero and two time Olympic Games champion Benjamin Jipcho.
The two time Commonwealth Games champion Jipcho died on Friday in an Eldoret hospital where he was undergoing treatment with his burial set for Friday in his Kisawai land in Kitale, Trans Nzoia County.
Biwott, Olympic champion during the 1968 Games in Mexico City said Jipcho was his competitor and worked together at the Kenya Prison.
He says Jipcho was his greatest competitor just like Kipchoge Keino and Amos Kogo. They competed after Jipcho and Keino changed from 5,000m, to 1,500m and settled in the 3,000m which he enabled him to clinch silver at the 1972 Olympic Games with the title won by Keino as Biwott was 4th.
“He was a great competitor and it was fun when he raced together while representing the country. As a nation, we have lost an icon who should be celebrated over what he did for this nation during his heydays, raising the Kenyan flag without questioning,” said Biwott.
Regarded as the father of water and barriers, Biwott said Jipcho was a great runner who marshalled Kenya team well and sacrificed a lot for the nation and handing the title to Keino.
“It is not easy in a competition for an athlete to pace for his competitor but Jipcho did that to Keino. That is memorable in the world of sports especially athletics,” said Biwott.
Born 75 years ago Biwott led a 1-2 podium finish for Kenyan team and won the Commonwealth Games 3,000m steeplechase silver medalist.
Apart from Biwott competing on track together, they were both employees of Prison service where Jipcho was good at his work.
Biwott won the Olympic 3,000m steeplechase e title in 1968 and lost 1972 he finished 4th with Keino winning the title ahead of Jipcho.
“Look at how we ran together. In 1970, I won bronze before finishing 8th in 1974 that was won by Ben Jipcho,” said Biwott.
During his career as an athlete, Biwott feared most Kogo then came Jipcho then Keino in the steeplechase.
“I used to run next to Kogo, whom a beat to win silver latter Jipcho came very fast breaking the world record, then Keino joined 3,000m steeplechase after dominating in 5,000m. He came with force and edged as on the track. He used to compete with the late Naftali Temu. I don’t know why Keino and Jipcho left 5,000m to compete in 3,000m steeplechase but good friends up to now we are still good friends,” added Biwott.