The 1998 world half marathon champion Paul Koech died on Tuesday (September 4, 2018) after a short illness.
Koech who was the Athletics Kenya (AK)) Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) branch vice chairman passed on at the Forces Memorial Hospital in Nairobi where he was rushed after becoming ill.
According to sources, Koech fell ill and was admitted at the facility after complaining of a severe headache.
Koech’s death comes less than a month after the death of the 2015 World 400m hurdles champion Nicholas Bett who died in a tragic road accident.
Koech who rose to the rank of a Major in the Kenyan army was born in 1969 in the Burnt Forest area of Rift Valley province.
He represented Kenya at the World Cross Country Championships on six occasions between 1996 and 2003, finishing in the top six individually and taking a team gold medal on each occasion.
Koech also represented Kenya on the track internationally where missed a medal by whisker by settling for a fourth place finish in the 10,000m at the 1997 World Championships in Athens where his niece, Sally Barsosio, struck gold in the women’s event.
He pushed five times World Cross Country champion Paul Tergat to break the 10,000m world record in 26:27.85 in Brussels, Belgium and made Koech the third-fastest man in history at that time.
Now, 21 years on from that race’s time that he posted of 26:36.26, Koech sits at number seven on the world all-time list.
In 1998, he took the individual silver medal behind Tergat and team gold at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Marrakech, Morocco, gold at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Uster, Switzerland and gold at the now defunct IAAF World Road Relay Championships in Manaus, Brazil.
In a statement, Athletics Kenya said: “Athletics Kenya with sorrow, regret to announce the sudden demise of Major Paul Koech, a co-opted member in Athletics Kenya Executive Committee.”
The statement further read: Major Paul was a great track, cross country and road racing athlete of all times. A dedicated team player in Kenya’s national team and World Cross Country squad.