Tributes pour in for fallen Kenyan steeplechase runner

Kennedy Njiru from Lanet Barracks leads other athletes during the men’s 10km cross country race at the Kahawa Garrison in Nairobi on November 23, 2018. Njiru died on January 7, 2019 in a tragic road crash. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO |

What you need to know:

  • Colleagues described Njiru as a hard working athlete and an inspiration to many upcoming athletes.

The 2013 World and 2014 Commonwealth 3,000m steeplechase champion Milcah Chemos led tributes on Wednesday following the death of Kenya Defence Forces athlete Kennedy Njiru on Tuesday in a tragic car crash.

Colleagues described Njiru as a hard working athlete and an inspiration to many upcoming athletes.

The 33-year-old 3,000m steeplechase athlete died in a car crash on Tuesday at Gwakung'u Shopping Centre near the famous Equator Line along Nyeri-Nyahururu Road.

The 2014 Commonwealth and 2015 World Javelin champion Julius Yego and former world marathon record holder Patrick Makau are among the other elite athletes, who mourned Njiru.

Njiru was part of Team Kenya to the 2018 African Senior Athletics but failed to start the 3,000m steeplechase where compatriot Olympic and World champion Conseslus Kipruto won. The same year, Njiru finished third in the KDF Championships.

Last year, Njiru finished 10th during the African Games trials on June 22 before he settled second at the KDF event on July 3.

Njiru then came in third during the National Championships on August 21 before settling seventh during the trials for the World Championships on September 13.

Njiru competed last at the Genworth Virginia Ten Miler race in Lynchburg, Virginia, USA on September 26 last year where he finished sixth.

"I can't believe you are gone so soon Njiru. My prayer to the family and KDF fraternity for losing such a hardworking athlete, who made sure he put in his best in training," said Chemos, who is also the athletes' representative at Athletics Kenya's executive committee.

Yego said that it’s sad and difficult to comprehend what has happened to Njiru. "I can't type RIP to you Kenneth Njiru, it’s disturbing, but we have to accept it has happen(ed), go rest with the angels, you were a strong believer in hard work and determination to succeed in athletics career," said Yego on Facebook. " I remember so clearly and well that time in Embu when you were really working hard in training and always motivated to be an elite athlete."

Makau said: "So sad to lose Njiru. My condolences to his family."

Former Athletics Kenya Nairobi Region official Pak Kariuki mourned Njiru as a hard working athlete.

"Where the accident happened is a black spot. Many lives have been lost at that sharp corner and it's sad that Njiru is now one of them. At one time we held our Roads Safety Marathon starting at the area In 2017," said Kariuki.