Bett Burial Set For Next Friday As Tributes Continue To Pour In
Plans for heroic send-off for Beijing 2015 men 400m Hurdles world champion underway
- Kenya Police Service, Athletics Kenya, county governments of Nandi and Uasin Gishu and his peers coordinating funeral arrangements
- Fellow athletes, family members and friends scheduled to meet at Eldoret Sports Club on Friday
- Fallen athlete was on phone with widow at the time of the car crash
- Paul Tergat and Vivian Cheruiyot among those sending tributes
NAIROBI, Kenya- Plans to accord departed Beijing 2015 men 400m Hurdles champion and trailblazer Nicholas Bett, a heroic send-off begun on Thursday in Nairobi and Eldoret with the family identifying next Friday (July 17) as the date for the burial.
Funeral arrangements for the first Kenyan to win a sprint world title are being coordinated between Kenya Police Service, Athletics Kenya (AK), county governments of Nandi and Uasin Gishu and his peers who continued to reel in shock a day after he perished in a road accident at Sochoi along the Eldoret-Kapsabet road.
On Friday, his peers including reigning and former Olympic, world, Commonwealth and African champions, friends and some members of his family are scheduled to meet at the Eldoret Sports Club starting at 2pm local time (+3GMT) to plan a funeral befitting that of man who ruled the world.
At the same time, athletics loyalty continued to send their condolences to the family including widow Gladys Chepchumba Bett, friends and the fraternity at large as details of his last moments before the tragic Wednesday accident emerged.
“I learnt with deep shock the loss of our athlete champion, Nicholas Bett early this morning following a tragic road accident.
“Nicholas Bett was an extremely talented hurdler who demonstrated his skill at the highest level during the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, when Kenya topped the world,” two-time Olympic silver medallist and National Olympic Committee-Kenya (NOC-K) President, Paul Tergat mourned.
“He opened an unchartered territory for budding track athletes in the barriers event and was definitely a huge inspiration to the millions of youth with potential in our country.
“His passing on, therefore, is such a huge loss to the family and the entire sporting fraternity and citizens of this nation.
“On behalf of the NOC-K, my own behalf and fellow athletes, I wish to send our condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the Late Bett and, assure you of our prayers and solidarity in these very trying moments,” the former world marathon record holder and five-time IAAF World Cross Senior winner added in his statement.
“My heartfelt condolences to the family, relatives and athletic fraternity for the loss of our brother Nicholas Bett. It was a big shock to all of us to learn about his death.
“Shine on your way brother Bett we loved you but God loved you most. Rest in eternal peace our legend till we meet again,” Olympic women 5000m champion and London Marathon winner, Vivian Cheruiyot eulogised on Facebook.
“Your no longer with us bro! And its only God knows why. RIP Nicholas,” London 2017 men’s marathon, Geoffrey Kirui grieved.
“Yesterday (Wednesday) was a sad day indeed for the fallen hero, the world champion in 400m hurdles.
“No one has made it in this event before in our history. God be with entire family and athletics at large,” Micah Kogo, the former world record holder in 10K and men 10000m bronze winner at the Worlds added.
“This are sad news and most difficult to swallow. It is a big blow to African athletics, to Kenya and the world.
“In particular, we had expected him to grow to become one of the best in the coaching of 400m athletes in benefit of Kenyan and all athletes in the continent and beyond upon retirement,” Athletics South Africa President, Aleck Skhosana, earlier said in a statement sent on Wednesday evening.
“We remember him also for winning the bronze medals at the African championships in 2014 in the 400 Hurdles and 4x400m Relay.
“We express our deepest condolences to his twin brother Aron, the Bett family, Athletics Kenya and the rest of the nation for this tragic and unexpected loss,” he added.
Bett perished on the spot when his Toyota Prado SUV hit bumps, rolled and landed on a ditch minutes before he was due to pick his friend in Kapsabet having driven from Nairobi alone from 2am on the ill-fated morning.
According to reports corroborated by his father and AK official, Joseph Boit, Bett was on the phone with his wife when the line suddenly went dead.
His widow called his father who in turn rang his son only for a stranger to pick up and report the owner of the phone had been involved in an accident and disconnected. Minutes later, the same responder confirmed the devastating news to the father.
Two eyewitnesses from the accident since identified as Mary Sitienei and Emily Tanui were the first onto the scene where they saw the body of the late two-time African bronze winner lying a few metres from the wreckage of his car motionless.
They covered it with a blanket and informed a local chief who called the police who first removed the body to Kapsabet before it was later transferred to the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret later Thursday.