By Kiptanui Rutto
The death of Benjamin Webura ‘Ben’ Jipcho has unearthed the other side of our history. We have many unsung heroes battling loneliness, ailments, poverty and other hard ways of life.
It is a blow to the athletic fraternity as we mourn the death of one of the Kenya’s accomplished sports men.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy Dr. William Ruto and Sports CS AMB. Amina Mohamed led the nation in mourning the passing on of the legend. They were quick to post on their social media but I bet, among the government officials no one went to see him in hospital. That is how we have failed as a nation.
Those born in late 80s to the millennium guys may be pondering through the bush of thoughts trying to find out, who is this Ben Jipcho? Here is a quick summary of this icon.
He was born in March 1st, 1943 in Mt. Elgon and started his athletic career when he was a teenager.
In 1968, he represented Kenya in 1,500 metres in Mexico Olympics where he came tenth in 3mins 51.2 seconds. Through pace setting, he helped Kipchoge Keino become Olympic champion by beating American Jim Ryun.
In 1972, Ben won silver for Kenya after coming second after Kipchoge in 3,000 metres Steeplechase Olympic. In the same event, he again had set pace for Kipchoge who dethroned Pole Malinovski becoming the champion.
In 1973, he tried his best becoming African champion in 3,000 metres Steeplechase improving three times the record. This means, only in the month of June 1973, he broke the world record three times. This was in Lagos, 8:20:8 on June 15 and twice Helsinki, 8:19:08 on June 19 and Helsinki, 8:14:00 on June 27. He again won 5,000 metres and 1,500 metres twice beating Filbert Bayi of Tanzanian who had ousted Kipchoge .
Ben won both the 3,000 metres Steeplechase and the 5,000 metres in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1974 Commonwealth Games. He only remained with 1.4 sec to smash the world record set by Belgian Emil Puttemans but came third in 1,500 metres.
Jipcho passed away at the age of 77 on Friday at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Eldoret, where he has been receiving treatment.