Mourners and family members of the slain Olympian Agnes Tirop gather for her funeral in Iten, western Kenya, last Wednesday.
Like the athletics committee, family of the 25 year old Olympian who was found dead in her house in iten on 13 october say they have lost an asset.
“My daughter loved us her parents, she was such a good girl full of peace and always calm. She loved athletics and she was of big help to us on financial issues and general matters.
Autopsy report by Government pathologist Dr Dorothy Njeru, witnessed by a forensic physician at the Iten County Referral Hospital says Agnes was stabbed on her neck and the head hit with a blunt object.
Agnes’ husband has been named key suspect in the case and is currently in the custody of the Kenyan police.
The death of the 25 year old running star has raised issue of the pressures faced by female athletes who pay a huge price for their success in a male-dominated society.
Days after the death of her colleague, marathon great Mary Keitany told the AFP “Women athletes bear the burden of the whole family,”
Keitany’s career exposed her to several young athletes like Tirop, who spend years balancing their demanding professional lives with social expectations around marriage and motherhood while also serving as the key breadwinner for large extended families. It is not clear if any of these pressures contributed to the death of Tirop. However friends of the Olympic 5,000m runner say Agnes had had several quarrels with the husband.
Devoted to sports from an early age, many lack the necessary education to manage their finances, the four-time New York marathon champion said, putting them at risk of being used as “cash cows” by greedy spouses.
“They realise when it’s too late that their investment is not in their hands and they sink into depression,” said the recently-retired mother-of-two.
Like Tirop, who was born into a peasant family in the Rift Valley, many Kenyan athletes see sporting success as their only way out of poverty and get their start in training camps which are unregulated and notorious hotbeds of sexual misconduct.
“There are so many wolves out there waiting to prey on these girls,” Tegla Loroupe, a former world marathon record holder, told AFP.
She claims agents pay off families to convince them to “force the girls to drop out of school prematurely and compete in overseas races”.