Olympic Trailblazer Wilson Kiprugut Dead at 84

Wilson Kiprugut, a sprinter and middle-distance runner from Kenya who won two Olympic medals, died on Nov. 1, according to multiple reports. He was 84 years old. According to Athletics Kenya, Kiprugut died in Kericho county after a "long illness." His family said Kiprugut died in a hospital after losing consciousness at his home. 

"We are deeply saddened by the death of one of Kenya's pioneering athletes, Wilson Chuma Kiprugut. The renowned Kenyan middle-distance legend passed away in Kericho county on Tuesday evening after a long illness," Athletics Kenya said in a statement. Kiprugut won a bronze medal in the 800m at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. He then won a silver medal in the same seven in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. 

"It is a sad day for our sport. He was one of our greatest runners," double Olympic and world 800m champion David Rudisha told BBC Sport Africa. "Being the first Kenyan to win a medal in Olympic Games, and the race being 800m, is really a great inspiration. You can see the 800m has been a race for the Kenyans ever since. We have been performing very well, but I can say it's because of people like Wilson Kiprugut. He made our country proud."

In 1965, Kiprugut won two gold medals in the 800m and 400m in the All-Africa Games in Brazzaville. In 1966, Kiprugut competed in the British Empire and Commonwealth Games and won the silver medal in the 880-yard event. He retired from completion in 1969 and became a fitness instructor with the army until 1974. He later ran a farm near his hometown in Kericho. 


"He opened the way for our athletes and country to establish the rich tradition and status within the Olympic movement of Kenya's athletic and sporting prowess," Paul Tergat, the president of Kenya's National Olympic Committee said in a statement. "As we celebrate this icon, we note with pride that his legacy is immortalized as our athletes continue the winning tradition he established. We join the family and the rest of the sporting fraternity in mourning this great athlete."