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Family, friends inconsolable as World champ Bett dies

James Waindi and Emmanuel Masinde @PeopleSports11

The country was yesterday in shock after the sudden death of former world 400m hurdles champion Nicholas Bett through a road accident at Sochoi area in Lessos Nandi County.

It is not yet clear where Bett who was alone in the car by the time of the accident, was headed to, but according to eye witnesses, the car a Toyota Land Cruiser was coming from Sochoi direction heading to Kapsabet, before it hit an unmarked bump, lost control and rolled several times.

“Nandi County, Nandi east Division, Lessos Police Station reported a self-involved fatal road traffic accident involving a police officer one Nicholas Kiplagat Bett, who is also an athlete attached to Kisumu Police traffic base,” said Nandi Police Commander Patrick Wambani.

He added: “He was driving a Toyota Land Cruiser from Sochoi direction heading towards Kapsabet direction and upon reaching the location of the accident, he hit a bump and lost control of the vehicle and veered off the road, rolling several times. Due to the impact he was thrown off the vehicle through the windscreen and died on the spot upon landing on the ground.”

News of Bett’s death engulfed his home in Simat Ward, Kapseret, Uasin Gishu County with his close relatives struggling to come to terms with his demise.

The wreckage of Bett’s car at the scene of the fatal accident in Lessos, Nandi County. Photo/EMMANUEL MASINDE

“My heart is full of grief, Bett called me on Tuesday night and told me he was waiting for X-ray results from a hospital before he travels to Eldoret.

Then in the morning at around 6.25am he called me but found I was still asleep, so I called him immediately I woke up but someone else picked the phone and told me the owner of the phone has been involved in an accident about five minutes ago, that’s the moment I ran to inform my mother-in-law, but we were all optimistic that all would be well,” said Bett’s wife Glady’s Jepchumba who described Bett as a very hardworking and committed athlete.

Undoubtedly the crowning glory of Bett’s career was at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing where he upset the odds to finish with a gold medal.

He had scrapped through to the 400m hurdles final, finishing in the last qualification spot by five hundreths of a second.

But despite starting in lane nine, Bett finished first with a time of 48.37secs ahead of Russia’s Denis Kudryavtsev in second.

Bett also appeared at the 2016 Rio Olympics as the reigning world champion but suffered disappointment as he crashed out in the first round.

Much had been expected of Bett in Rio but he suffered disappointment when he was disqualified, miscalculating his leap and clipping the final hurdle during a heat.

Injuries hampered Bett’s form in much of the two years that followed but he returned to action at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Bett finished eighth in the 400m hurdles in Australia while his Kenya team failed to qualify for the 4x400m relay.

He failed to reach the podium at the 2018 African Championships but Kenya topped the medal table with 11 golds in total, two ahead of South Africa and Nigeria.

Bett, whose twin brother Aron Koech is also an international 400m hurdler, was a father to two-year-old twins.

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