I was in the amazing Beijing Stadium, known as the “Bird’s Nest”, in August 2015, when Nicholas Bett ran the race of his life, taking the gold medal in the 400 meter hurdles. A Kenyan 400m hurdler takes gold? Bett showed that Kenya has more than fine distance runners.
I was horrified by the death of Nicholas in an auto accident on August 8, 2018. Justin Lagat sent this piece in memory of Kenya’s unique hurdler. A memorial service was held today August 15, in Kenya and the gold medalist will be buried on Thursday, August 16, 2018.
Please keep Mr. Bett’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.
Just as surprising as he came seemingly out of nowhere to win the gold medal at the 2015 IAAF world championships, news of Bett’s passing on this Wednesday morning were even more surprising. I was just back from an easy 16km morning run with my wife and as we sat down ready to enjoy our morning cup of tea, we suddenly saw the breaking news on TV. For a while, we were in denial as we tried different channels and social media at the same time, but the news were there with a picture of a car to prove it was indeed true.
There have been so many world champions from Kenya, but Nicholas Bett was special. He was the first ever Kenyan to win a gold medal at the world championships in a sprinting event. He opened the eyes of many young Kenyans that Kenyans too have the lungs and muscles capable of beating everyone else in the world in the sprints. Just like Julius Yego, he opened up more options for Kenyan athletes to shine on the global scene. Kenyans runners now know that they have the potential to dominate any track event, be it flat, with hurdles, or with barriers. Thanks to Bett.
Bett was involved in a tragic road accident at around 6am in the morning of August 8, 2018 in which he lost control of his vehicle after it hit a road bump and the vehicle rolled several times before landing in a ditch.
Messages of shock and disbelief from fans, fellow athletes and high government officials including the president and the deputy presiden of Kenya flooded the social media this morning and the name of Nicholas Bett was atop the trending topics in Kenya.
At the age of 28, Bett still had a lot of potential to achieve so much more in his life and his passing on will be such a great loss to his family, friends and the nation of Kenya. It is a sad day in Kenya.