Wilson Kiprogot, the first Kenyan to win an Olympic medal and a pioneer in the country’s track and field success, has died aged 84.
Kiprogot’s impressive success at the 1964 Tokyo Games came – eight years after Kenya’s participation in the 1956 Olympics – when he clocked 1 minute and 45.9 seconds to take bronze in the men’s 800 meters won by New Zealander Peter Snell, who is an Olympic record 1:45.1.
After four years in the rare air of Mexico City, he came close to the top of the Olympic podium when he took silver with a time of 1:44.5 behind Australian Ralph Dobell, who set a world record and an Olympic record of 1 win: 44.3.
At those Mexican Games, the track on which Kiprogot skated four years earlier had been so well and truly mastered by Kenyan athletes that they won nine medals on the track, including golds from Naftali Timo, Kip Keno and Amos Biwot, respectively, men’s 10,000m and sprints of 1,500m and 3000m hurdles.
Kiprogot, who collapsed at his home in Kericho and later died in hospital, received a recognition award from the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) last year.
“This is a huge loss for the country and for athletics,” Jackson Toei, Kenya’s president of athletics, told Nation Sport.
“The Tokyo 1964 Olympics Kiprugot Medal is a very valuable medal because it was Kenya’s first Olympics and inspired other athletes to shine on the Olympic stage.”
“We at Athletics Kenya join his family in mourning a great legend and hero of our nation and will give the family all the support they need.
“I have already briefed the Sports Cabinet Minister on development and we will support the family as a nation. We will announce more details in due course.”
Born in 1938, Kiprogot started his career in the top flight at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia when he finished fifth in the 4x400m team.
He won the bronze medal for 880 yards at the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica, after winning the 400 and 800 meters at the inaugural African Games the previous year.