REST IN PEACE

Thomas Saisi, 1972 Olympics record breaker, passes on at 75

Athletics Kenya president Tuwei exuded confidence Saisi's mentality will continue to rub off on many upcoming athletes and rubber stamp Kenya's status as an athletics powerhouse.

In Summary

•Athletics legend Thomas Saisi, 75, passed on at his Kapenguria home on Wednesday morning after a protracted illness. 

•He was part of a Kenyan male quartet, which clinched gold in the 4x400 yards (now 4x400m relay) at the 1972 Olympics in Munich where they clocked 2.59.83. 

•Hezekiah Nyamau is the only surviving member of the pioneer sprint team after the passing on of Bon in November 2018 and Ouko in August 2019.  

Athletics Kenya president Jack Tuwei at a past press briefing
Athletics Kenya president Jack Tuwei at a past press briefing
Image: ERICK BARASA

The athletics fraternity in Kenya is currently mourning athletics legend Thomas Saisi who passed on in Kapenguria on Wednesday morning after a protracted illness. 

He was aged 75.  Saisi was part of a Kenyan male quartet, which clinched gold in the 4x400 yards (now 4x400m relay) at the 1972 Olympics in Munich where they clocked 2.59.83. 

Alongside Naftali Bon, Hezekiah Nyamau and Robert Ouko, the Kenyans finished ahead of the English quartet of Alan Pascoe, David Jenkins, Dave Hemery and Martin Reynolds (3.00.46) and the French team of  Gilles Bertould, Francis Kerbiriou, Jacques Carette and Daniel Velasques (3.00.65) in second and third place respectively.

Athletics Kenya president Jack Tuwei eulogised Saisi as an athletics pioneer who set the building blocks for the growth of the sport through his exploits on the track. 

"I would like to send my sincere condolences to the family as they come to terms with the loss of their loved one. Saisi is one of the athletes who ran for this country for the love of the game and contributed immensely by setting the foundation for the sport in this country. His place in our athletics history as a trailblazer remains etched, thanks to the many other athletes who followed in his footsteps and looked to him as a source of inspiration for their athletics careers," Tuwei said. 

Saisi's international foray into athletics began at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City where he finished seventh in the 800m, timing 1.47.59 — a race in which another Kenyan, Wilson Kiprugut, finished second in 1.44.5 behind winner Ralph Doubell of Australia. 

The Kenyan quartet also set the world alight at the British 1970 Commonwealth Games where they clocked a world record of 7.11.6 in the 4x880 yards (now 4x800m) to finish first. 

Tuwei exuded confidence Saisi's mentality will continue to rub off on many upcoming athletes and rubber stamp Kenya's status as an athletics powerhouse.

"Today is indeed a sad day not only for the athletics fraternity but for the country as a whole. Yet, we thank God for gifting us Saisi and for his selfless dedication to flying our Kenyan flag high in all the competitions in which he represented the nation," he said.

Saisi's demise means Nyamau is the only surviving member of the pioneer sprint team after the passing on of Bon in November 2018 and Ouko in August 2019.