(13-Oct) -- Agnes Jebet Tirop, the surprise winner of the 2015 World Athletics Cross Country Championships when she was only 19, was found dead at her home today in Iten. She had been stabbed to death according to several sources, including Athletics Kenya.
PHOTO: Agnes Jebet Tirop showing off one of adidas racing shoes she used to set her women's only world record for 10-K in Herzogenaurach, Germany, on September 12, 2021 (photo courtesy of adidas via Instagram)
"She was allegedly stabbed to death by her husband," read a statement from Athletics Kenya earlier today. "We are still working to unearth more details surrounding her demise."
Tirop, who was 25, died just 10 days before her 26th birthday. After finishing fourth in the Tokyo Olympics 5000m, she had competed in two road races in Europe, both at the 10-kilometer distance. At a special event hosted by her kit sponsor adidas at their headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany, on September 12, Tirop ran a pending World Athletics record of 30:01 for a women-only race. On October 3, she ran in the Geneva Giants 10-K clocking an also-superb 30:20.
"Kenya has lost a jewel who was one of the fastest-rising athletics giants on the international stage, thanks to her eye-catching performances on the track," the Athletics Kenya statement continued.
Two of those performances came at the World Athletics Championships in 2017 in London and in 2019 in Doha. In London she took the bronze medal in 31:03.50 behind established Ethiopian stars Almaz Ayana and Tirunesh Dibaba. In Doha two years later she again took third behind the world's two best distance runners on the track, Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands and Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia.
Tirop enjoyed many other successes on the oval, including winning the Kenyan 10,000m title in 2019 and the Kenyan Trials for the World Athletics Championships 10,000m in 2017.
But her real love was cross country. She was the silver medalist in the U20 division at the World Athletics Cross Country Championships in 2013, and she was the African cross country champion in 2014. She also won classic invitationals like the Cross Internacional Memorial Juan Muguerza in Elgóibar, Spain, in 2018 and the Cross Internacional de Itálica, also in Spain in Santiponce, the same year.
"A talent," commented veteran Kenyan journalist Michelle Katami on her Twitter account. "She was going to do well on the road. A tragic end. Athletics has lost a huge talent."