Kenya’s trailblazing Olympic legend Ben Jipcho will be buried on Friday at his Kisawai home in Saboti, Trans Nzoia County.
Jipcho died last Friday at the Fountain Hospital in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, where he was being treated at the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit with organ failure.
According to his wife Bilhah Jipcho, her husband died of stomach cancer which affected his internal organs.
“My husband died last week after suffering for a long time due to stomach cancer which affected all his organs and also causing blockage,” said Bilhah.
When Nation Sport visited the family on Thursday, preparations were in top gear to give the former world beater a befitting send-off.
Despite the icon bringing fame into the country with his exemplary performance in athletics, the road to his home is torturous and no one has even bothered to grade it even with heavy rains pounding the area making it worse. Yet faraway in New Zealand, he has a road named after him following his exploits at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch where he won two gold medals in the 5,000 metres and steeplechase, and a bronze in the 1,500 metres. He will be remembered as one of the athletes who put Kenya in the limelight during his athletics days but has been neglected to date.
According to his son Moses Jipcho, his father had been waiting for Sh300,000 for sports veterans which had been promised by the government through the Ministry of Sports which never came.
“My father died waiting for the veterans’ amount of Sh300,000 which he had been promised but the cash never came through which is sad.
“He brought fame for the country and to keep waiting until he died was not a good thing,” said Moses.
The organisers of the funeral said that they will adhere strictly to the Ministry of Health guidelines despite many people expected to attend the funeral.
Immediate family members were in final moments of preparations as they waited for the arrival of the body from Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital Thursday evening. According to the Sabaot community, the body must spend the night at his home before the burial.
Jipcho will be laid to rest next to a cowshed, a place he had proposed he be buried according to a close source in the family. Young men were Thursday busy digging the grave which will be cemented after the burial.
His 79-year-old brother Reverend Patterson Kea Chemaima, said that it was unfortunate his brother left during the covid-19 pandemic which could deny him a befitting sendoff.