Kenyan athletics pioneer Daniel Rudisha, father of David, dies

Published March 8, 2019
Olympic silver-medallist runner in 1968 Daniel Rudisha died at 73 of a heart attack, his son announces. — Photo courtesy: Youth Village
Olympic silver-medallist runner in 1968 Daniel Rudisha died at 73 of a heart attack, his son announces. — Photo courtesy: Youth Village

NAIROBI: Daniel Rudisha, an Olympic silver-medallist runner in 1968 and the father of two-time Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha, has died. He was 73.

David Rudisha made the announcement on Thursday, saying his father had a heart attack on Wednesday while undergoing dialysis treatment. The elder Rudisha had struggled with diabetes for many years and had been in the intensive care unit this week.

“Our beloved father sadly left us last night,” David Rudisha said. “He had recovered and was on his way to fine health having been taken off the intensive care unit. He was speaking well and joking as usual while undergoing his dialysis treatment but at around 11 p.m. he suffered a sudden heart attack. We will try to remain strong during these difficult times.”

Daniel Rudisha won silver in the 4x400m relay at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics behind the world record-breaking United States, one of Kenya’s earliest successes in track. Kip Keino broke onto the scene to win gold for Kenya in the 1,500m at the same Olympics.

David Rudisha, a world record-holder and two-time world champion in the 800, often referred to his father as his inspiration. He gave his dad his first gold medal from the 2012 London Olympics, when he set the current world record. David posted pictures of himself and his father on Twitter this week.

Apart from coaching his son, Rudisha also mentored the careers of two-time world 800m champion Billy Konchellah and his late brother Patrick Konchellah, winner of the 1994 Commonwealth Games 800m in Victoria, Canada, and Stephen Ole Marai, a 1987 world championships 800m finalist.

Athletics Kenya (AK) said Rudisha would be remembered as a pioneer who helped lay a foundation for the current crop of athletes.

“Rudisha is among the first lot of athletes who represented the country, not for monetary gains but for the love of the game,” it said in a statement.

Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2019

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