Kenyan Track Star Nicholas Bett Killed in Road Accident, Asaba 2018 LOC Mourns
Kenya athlete Nicholas Bett, the 2015 world 400m hurdles champion, was killed on Wednesday in a car crash near his home in western Kenya, police said, AFP reports.
While Kenya topped the table in last week’s 21st African Athletics Championships in Asaba, Bett was forced to pull out of his race due to injury.
The 28-year-old Bett, the father of two-year-old twins, made his name at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing where he surprised the field by taking gold. He had struggled to replicate that form.
Bett, whose twin brother Aron Koech is also an international 400m hurdler, was disqualified in his heat at the 2016 Rio Olympics after hitting a hurdle and was unable to defend his world title in London in 2017 due to injury.
Nandi County police commander Patrick Wambani said Bett was killed in the crash on the road between Eldoret and Kapsabet, two of Kenya’s famed distance-running training towns in the Rift Valley region in the west of the country.
Bett’s Toyota Prado SUV hit bumps in the road and rolled, his coach, Vincent Mumo, revealed. Mumo said the accident happened around 6am.
Bett won gold in the 400 hurdles at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, a breakthrough victory in that event for Kenya, a powerhouse in middle- and long-distance events.
He also won bronze medals at the Africa Championships in 2014 in the 400 hurdles and 4x400m relay.
Athletics Kenya has sent its condolences to Bett’s family. Bett’s twin brother, Aron Koech, is also a hurdler and was part of the Kenyan 4×400 team that won gold at last week’s Africa Championships. Nicholas Bett didn’t run on that team after being forced to pull out due to injury.
The Local Organising Committee for Asaba 2018 lamented Bett’s passing.
“It is very sad because I talked to him yesterday,” said Barnaba Korir, an official with Athletics Kenya (AK). “He had gone to Nairobi Hospital to see a doctor because of the injury he picked up in Asaba.
“This morning we got the reports (of his death) and, as AK, we are saddened beyond words.”
In a statement by Olukayode Thomas, Head Media and Publicity for Asaba 2018, the LOC Chairman, Solomon Ogba, said the sudden demise of Bett was a big blow not just to Kenya but to the rest of Africa.
“We were deeply touched when we heard the news of Bett’s death on Wednesday,” Ogba said.
“Coming at a time when the athletics family in Kenya are still celebrating their heroic performance in Asaba, it is painful that the former world champion is no longer around to savour this magic moment with the rest of his colleagues.”
While Ogba is condoling with the athletics family in Africa, he advised that the legacies of Bett must be sustained and the former world champion must be immortalised.
“He was a great son of Kenya and Africa, so I expect that his legacies must be well protected, I pray for his family and his loved ones to have the strength to bear this irreparable loss,” the former Athletics Federation of Nigeria boss added.