The Kenyan football community was thrown into deep mourning following the death of Harambee Stars’ number one fan, Isaac Juma, Gor Mahia diehard supporter Laban Ayieko and several players, including former Mathare United and Tusker FC left-back David Mwangi and ex-Sofapaka midfielder Widsom Naya.
In athletics, Kenyans mourned the death of country’s first Olympic medalist, Wilson Kiprugut Chumo, who died at the age of 84 after losing consciousness at his Kericho home.
Kiprugut, who passed on in November, won a bronze medal in the 800 metres race at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics in a race won by the New Zealand legend Peter Snell.
Kiprugut then won silver at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, again in the 800m, behind Australian Ralph Dobell who broke the world record that day.
Legendary Kenyan athlete Dan Omwansa, who was also a coach and mentor to many, also died in February, aged 74, after a long illness.
Meanwhile, boxing legend Philip Waruinge died in his sleep in October, aged 77, just a few days before Mashujaa Day.
The Olympian, who was among the boxers to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, was the first African feather-weight boxer to win three consecutive gold medals in the African Boxing Championship in 1964, 1966 and 1968.
He won a bronze at the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games and followed it up with a silver medal at the 1972 Munich Games.
Cyclist Suleiman “Sule Kangangi” died in a crash in August while competing in a gravel race in Vermont.
The 33-year-old was riding at a high speed in the Vermont Overland race when he crashed.
About 900 cyclists were competing.Kangangi, who finished third in the Tour du Rwanda in 2017, was in the Team Amani formed of riders from Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.
Meanwhile, Rally driver Asad “Kalulu” Khan passed on in Nairobi mid-month after a domestic accident.
Both Juma and Ayieko were given emotional send-off in Bukaya and Ahero, respectively, with their burials attended by several club branch members and political bigwigs.
Juma was murdered by unknown assailants in his Bukaya ancestral home in Mumias Sub-county allegedly over land tussle, with his son narrowly escaping death, while Ayieko died three weeks following a short illness, barely a year after losing his wife.
A resolute defender, Mwangi, who also featured for Sony Sugar, the defunct Ushuru FC and Nairobi Stima, collapsed and died in hospital, hours after complaining of headache. The late featured for Tusker between 2017 and 2018.
Elsewhere, John Njau Kibue, a security guard at Lusail Stadium in Qatar, died a few days before the Fifa World Cup final after suffering a fall while working.
He was transferred to Hamad Medical Hospital’s intensive care unit after being attended to on-site by medical teams but passed away while receiving treatment.
Former Sofapaka FC midfielder Widsom Naya passed on in July after he was diagnosed with cancerous soft tissue sarcoma that affected his knee.
He died at Crystal Cottage Hospital in Kitale where he was admitted for chemotherapy.
Most Valuable Player
The late Naya who died aged 19, had also been treated at Eldoret Oncology Hospital, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret and in India where the surgery was performed.
The former St Anthony Boys High School who joined Sofapaka in 2019 was named Most Valuable Player during the 2018 Copa Coca Cola Under-16 Africa Cup of Nations that was held in Nakuru where he helped Kenya win the title.
Menengai Oilers Rugby Club was thrown into mourning twice this year after their players died in Nakuru and Kilifi counties.
On April 6, Menengai Oilers’ former player Vincent Oduor collapsed and died in Malindi, Kilifi County.
And on September 4, Oilers player Anthony Kibet was stabbed to death by unknown assailants in Pistis area, Nakuru Town west Sub County.
Oduor was a regular player at the Nakuru-based club before he took a break in 2020 after he secured employment in Malindi.
In the September incident, Kibet, 28, was in the company of his friend Ibrahim Otieno ,30, and two ladies when they were attacked by a gang of three.