Former steeplechase record holder Henry Rono dies in Kenya

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ATHLETICS Former steeplechase record holder Henry Rono dies in Kenya

Festus Chuma 13:30 - 15.02.2024

Kenyan track legend Henry Rono, famed for setting four world records, has passed away at 72 in Nairobi, leaving a lasting legacy.

Kenya’s athletics fraternity is in a state of mourning following the death of track legend Henry Rono who passed away on Thursday morning in Nairobi.

Rono, who was 72 at the time of his death, had been admitted to Nairobi South Hospital for the past ten days. 

His illustrious career in the 70s and 80s saw him dominate the track, setting an astounding four world records within just 81 days.

"Athletics Kenya is saddened to announce and notify the public of the demise of former Athlete Mr. Henry Rono which occurred today at 10.30am,"  a statement from the organization read.

Rono's achievements on the track have cemented his legacy as one of the greatest runners of his time, particularly as the former record holder of the 3000 meters steeplechase, a record he held for over a decade. 

Rono also twice set the world record for the 5000 meters, first in 1978 and then again in 1981.

The athletics community, both in Kenya and globally, has been pouring in tributes for the late Rono.

 "On behalf of Athletics Kenya Executive Committee and athletics fraternity, we wish to convey our sincere heartfelt condolence to his family, friends, and the entire athletics fraternity during this trying moment. May his soul rest in eternal peace," the statement added, reflecting the deep sense of loss felt across the athletics world.

Rono's journey in athletics was marked by remarkable achievements, including gold medals in the 10,000m and 3,000m steeplechase at the Commonwealth and African Games in Edmonton and Algiers, respectively. 

His tenure at Washington State University was historic, as he became only the third person, after Gerry Lindgren and Steve Prefontaine, to win the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men’s Cross Country Championship three times, in 1976, 1977, and 1979.

 His winning time of 28:07 in 1976 still stands as the fastest 10,000m cross country mark in NCAA history.

Despite his global acclaim, Rono never competed at the Olympics, a consequence of Kenya's boycotts of the 1976 and 1980 Games.

By the time of the 1984 Olympics, Rono had retired from competition.

Born in Kiptaragon, Kabsabet in Nandi County, Rono returned to Kenya in 2019 after spending 33 years living in the USA.

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