Kenyan police say they have arrested the husband of the distance runner Agnes Tirop, a two-times world championship bronze medallist who was found dead at her home.
The 25-year-old Tirop, who represented Kenya in the 5,000 metres at the Tokyo Olympics, was stabbed in the neck with a knife. Police said on Thursday they had arrested Emmanuel Rotich in the coastal city of Mombasa, hours after pleading with him to surrender.
“The suspect has been arrested today and is in custody at Changamwe police station in Coast Region,” Tom Makori, sub-county police commander for Keiyo North, told Reuters. “I can confirm now we have [our] main suspect in our custody.”
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations said on Twitter that Rotich was arrested after ramming his car into a lorry, saying he was trying to flee the country.
“The suspect is currently being grilled by detectives at Changamwe police station, for more details into the murder, before being arraigned to answer to murder charges,” the directorate said.
The Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, has asked for a quick investigation into Tirop’s death.
Last month in Germany Tirop smashed the women-only 10km world record, crossing the line in 30:01 to shave 28 seconds from the previous record, which was set by Morocco’s Asmae Leghzaoui in 2002.
In early October, Tirop finished second in the Giants Geneva 10K race. She claimed bronze medals at the 2017 and 2019 World Championships in the 10,000m, and won the 2015 World Cross Country Championships.
“Athletics has lost one of its brightest young stars in the most tragic circumstances,” said the World Athletics president, Sebastian Coe, in a statement on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, posted on the Olympics Twitter account: “I’m deeply shocked by the tragic death of Agnes Tirop, a young and bright talent. Her performances at Tokyo 2020 gave hope and inspiration to so many people.”
Television footage obtained by Reuters showed Tirop’s distraught friends and relatives leaving her residence, while police officers used a cordon to keep away others who had come to inquire what had happened.
“The girl was so jovial, in fact we travelled with her to Nairobi the day that we were returning back home from Tokyo,” said Milka Chemwos, a representative of Athletics Kenya.