Kenyan long-distance runner Agnes Jebet Tirop has been found dead in her residence in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County, with an apparent stab wound.
The 25-year-old was a bronze medal winner in the 10,000 metres at both the 2017 and 2019 World Athletics Championships in London and Doha, respectively, and placed fourth in the 5,000m final at this summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The Sun reported Tirop's death had been confirmed by Barnaba Korir, the chairperson of Athletics Kenya in Nairobi Region.
The tragedy comes one month after she broke the world record for a women's-only event in the 10,000 metres, having won the adizero Road To Records event in a time of 30 minutes and one second.
Her time was 28 seconds faster than the previous record set by Moroccan Asmae Leghzaoui at the 2002 New York mini marathon.
Speaking after that triumph in Herzogenaurach, Germany, she said: “I’m so happy to have broken the world record. I felt the pace was good. The course was very good, too.”
The former Kenyan prodigy clocked a time of 14 minutes 39.62 seconds in the 5,000m final at Tokyo 2020, some 19 seconds slower than the track personal best she ran in 2019.
Compatriot Hellen Obiri clinched the silver medal behind Dutch champion Sifan Hassan.
Fans took to social media to pay tribute to the athlete following news of Tirop's death as one wrote: “Heartbreaking to lose such an amazing talent in Athletics under weird circumstances. Kenya has lost big! Rest well 2015 World Cross Country Champion Agnes Tirop.”
Kipchumba Murkomen, Senator for Elgeyo Marakwet County, tweeted: "Deeply saddened by the news that Agnes Tirop, the international long distance runner was cruelly murdered at her home in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County. I hope the police will quickly apprehend the perpetrators. My condolences to the family, colleagues & friends of Ms Tirop. May she RIP."
Tirop was only 19 when she first burst onto the elite stage following her win at the 2015 World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China.
That victory made her the second-youngest athlete to win the women's event, the youngest being South African running legend Zola Budd.
She had previously starred and junior level and won both individual (6,000 metres) and team events at the African Cross Country Championships in Uganda in 2014.
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