Police are searching for Agnes Tirop’s husband after the Kenyan athlete was found dead at her home with stab wounds.
Police are treating her husband as a suspect, with Elgeyo Marakwet County police chief Tom Makori saying he is missing and wanted for questioning.
Tirop’s husband’s family reported he had phoned them crying and asking for God’s forgiveness for something he had done.
“There are revelations which came from her husband’s family,” Mr Makori said.
“We received a message from the family of Tirop’s husband that the husband had phoned the parents while crying and asking that God forgive him as there is something bad he had done,” he told NTV Kenya Television.
“When police went to Tirop’s house they found her in bed with blood under the bed and a lot of it on the floor.
“When police looked at the body, it looked like she had been stabbed on the neck with what we suspect to be a knife.”
Tirop, 25, was found dead at her home in Iten in western Kenya, a town renowned as a training base for distance runners.
Her car, which was parked outside the home, had its windscreen and windows smashed, which could indicate a domestic dispute before she was killed, police said.
Kenya’s National Police Service said Tirop was the victim of a “heinous crime” and promised “speedy and comprehensive investigations”.
The Kenyan track federation had earlier said Tirop, one of her country’s rising stars, had allegedly been stabbed by her husband but it was still working to uncover details of the incident.
“Kenya has lost a jewel,” Athletics Kenya said.
Last month, Tirop broke the world record in the women-only 10km road race in Germany.
Tirop also won bronze medals in the women’s 10,000m at the 2017 and 2019 World Championships, and finished fourth in the 5,000m at this year’s Tokyo Games.
Her career took off when she won the world cross-country title in 2015 at the age of 19 to become the second-youngest champion ever.
Athletics Kenya said she also won the Africa Cross-Country Championship in 2014 in Kampala, Uganda, along with a junior cross-country title in Poland in 2013.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta urged police “to track down and apprehend the criminals responsible”.
“It is unsettling, utterly unfortunate and very sad that we’ve lost a young and promising athlete,” Mr Kenyatta said in a statement.
“It is even more painful that Agnes, a Kenyan hero by all measures, painfully lost her young life through a criminal act perpetuated by selfish and cowardly people.”
International track governing body World Athletics said it was “deeply shocked and saddened” by Tirop’s death.
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