It’s more than a week when government officials led by deputy president William Ruto and former world winning athletes celebrated the 1968 Olympic Games 1,500m silver medalist Ben Jipcho on his burial day at his Kisawai home in Trans Nzoia County.
Jipcho, the two time Commonwealth Games champion died a week ago in an Eldoret hospital, not as the champion that was well eulogized only after death but he suffered in silence. But on his burial, the government came with goodies to salvage him and promising great deals for the veteran runners who put Kenya on the world map of athletics.
The DP, who led the mourners, said that the government has recognized the two All Africa Games champion in 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase as a hero, hence urging the Ministry of Sports pay Kenya’s heroes and heroines in all sports disciplines.
With the same song of promises, Ruto said winners of any international event should earn ksh1 million, silver medalists Sh500, 000 while bronze medalists will receive Sh250,000. This promise did not go down well with 1987 All Africa Games 400m silver medalist Rose Tata who claimed that Jipcho died while still waiting for the government promises.
According to Ruto, the 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase champion at the 1974 Commonwealth Games champion made the country proud hence he deserves the accolades from the government.
“He played a critical role to this country where they did not run for money but pride for their flag. This fallen hero made the country proud and his efforts did not go unrecognized,” said the DP.
Tata, who has been championing for Athletics Kenya Masters races said she pity’s the icons of this country as they die poor and unrecognized for the government only to come during burials to give promises.
“I cry when I see an icon dying like this. He never got any help from the government since I have been making follow-ups on the kitty which was to be released next week and it’s sad he died before getting his cash,” lamented Tata.
Jipcho competed alongside Kipchoge Keino during the 1968 Olympics Games where he won silver with Keino winning gold in 1,500m.
Jipcho also won silver at the 1972 Olympic Games in the 3,000m steeplechase with Keino winning gold.