Unsung Hero of Kenyan Athletics, Joseph Chelimo, Has Passed Away
Coach of World/Olympic Champions Reuben Kosgei, Richard Limo, Enock Koech, Eliud Kipchoge and Brimin Kipruto Succumbed To Brain Tumor
August 19, 2010
We here at LetsRun.com received the following email which is self-explanatory on the passing of Kenyan Athletics coach Joseph Chelimo.
Last week Kenyan athletics coach JosephnChelimo died. He was one of those unknown forces at the grassroots-level innKenya. He worked with great champions like Reuben Kosgei, Richard Limo, Eliud Kipchoge, Brimin Kipruto, Felix Limo among others. Please find an obituary which gives some background of his life (obituary appears below). I would appreciate if you would, if possible, give it some attention to at least honor what he did for athletics in Kenya.
On a personal note; I worked with Joseph Chelimo for over 12 years. I lost a good a friend and a very valuable coach.
If you have any more questions please feel free to contact me.
one4one sports marketing & management
Dullaerstraat 11, 4561 KA Hulst, Netherlands
Obituary - Joseph Chelimo (1957 – 2010)
By Phil Minshul
Joseph Chelimo, who died on August 7 at the age of 53, was one of the unsung heroes of Kenyan athletics, a coach who influenced and guided many runners who became Olympic and world champions or established internationals.
Chelimo wasn’t a runner himself when he was young but, like lots of Kenyans of that era, he had followed the sport closely from an early age when athletes started to give Kenya international prestige and a worldwide profile with their successes from the late 1960s onwards.
He trained and practiced as a veterinarian and also had a successful transport business but being involved with runners was his first love and in the 1990s he became a qualified coach.
Working with former Olympic 3000m steeplechase medallist Patrick Sang, the first global champion Chelimo coached was Reuben Kosgei, the 2000 Olympic Games 3000m steeplechase gold medallist.
Other successes soon followed and athletes he worked with who took world titles on the track or at cross country included Richard Limo, Enock Koech, Eliud Kipchoge and Brimin Kipruto.
His knowledge spanned the disciplines and he worked equally effectively with middle distance runners and also marathon runners such as Felix Limo, the winner of several major city races including events in Berlin, Chicago and London.
Contemporary elite runners he was working with, who will be familiar names to athletics aficionados, included William Biwott Tanui, Vincent Chepkok, Bernard Kipyego, Emmanuel Mutai, Lucas Rotich, Viola Kibiwott and Irene Jelagat.
Other highlights of his coaching career included being part of the Kenyan delegation at the 2005 and 2009 World Championships but Chelimo always admitted to being more comfortable back home in Kenya, in the countryside close to his home in Koropkwen (Chepkorio-Keiyo District) rather than in formal attire, where he could discover young talent and encourage them to develop within the sport.
In the often disharmonious and discordant world of Kenyan athletics, he was known and respected by officials and athletes alike as a calm voice who could be trusted to give impartial advice; a gracious, humble but also proud man who was not overly concerned about whether the spotlight shone on him.
Earlier this year, Chelimo started to suffer from severe headaches and dizziness which steadily worsened. Diagnoses lead to a brain tumour being discovered in June and he subsequently underwent surgery.
The initial prognosis was optimistic and Chelimo was due to be discharged from hospital but his condition suddenly worsened and he tragically died in the early hours of August 7.
His funeral took place on August 14 at his home in Koropkwen Village with around 2,000 people paying their last respects, including many of the athletes whose lives he influenced.
Chelimo, born on January 1, 1957, was married and had six children, four daughters and two sons.