Former world half marathon champion Paul Koech dies at 49

Paul Kipsiele Koech (File, AFP)
Paul Kipsiele Koech (File, AFP)

Paul Koech, a former world half marathon champion and long-time teammate of Kenyan great Paul Tergat, has died. He was 49.

The Kenyan track and field federation said on Wednesday that Koech died on Monday after a short illness. The federation did not release any more details.

"Paul was a great track, cross-country and road-racing athlete," Athletics Kenya said.

Koech won the world half marathon championship in Zurich in 1998. At the 1996 Atlanta OIympics, he finished sixth in the 10 000 metres and the following year was fourth at the world championships. Tergat won silver in both of those races.

In 1997, Koech ran the third-fastest 10 000 in history, finishing second behind Tergat as his friend broke the world record in the event.

The IAAF said it was "deeply saddened" to hear of Koech's death.

Koech was a major in the Kenyan armed forces and a member of the Athletics Kenya executive committee at the time of his death.

Tergat, now head of the Kenyan Olympic committee, said Koech was highly patriotic and hard working.

"It's beyond belief he is no longer with us," Tergat said. "This was a very good friend of mine and not only did we represent the country together but he believed entirely in national duty.

"He was someone who was a refined officer. He was firm, never believed in any short cuts ... this is very painful."

Koech was a three-time Kenyan cross-country champion, an impressive feat in a highly competitive running nation.

He often got the better of Tergat at national championships but he never managed to win the coveted world cross-country title. He did win individual silver behind Tergat and the team gold with Kenya at the cross-country worlds in 1998, his best season.

"Fearless racer but a truly humble and gracious person who always had time for a chat at a race," former Australian distance runner Lee Troop wrote on Twitter.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook


We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Who do you think is going to win the 2020 US election?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Biden is going to take it
47% - 7786 votes
It's four more years for Trump
53% - 8939 votes
Vote
All Share
55339.58
(+0.99)
Top 40
50692.28
(+0.83)
Financial 15
10790.70
(+3.99)
Industrial 25
74905.70
(+1.05)
Resource 10
52561.57
(-0.49)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo