Henry Rono: Kenyan great who broke four world records in 81 days dies

Thursday February 15 2024

Legendary athlete Henry Rono, who broke four world records when he was an active athlete, speaks during an interview with Nation Sport at his home in Nandi County, Kenya on April 7, 2021. PHOTO | NMG


Kenya's legendary distance runner Henry Rono died on Thursday, barely three days after celebrating his 72nd birthday on Monday.

Rono, who made history after breaking four world records in less than three months in 1978, died on Thursday morning while undergoing treatment at a Nairobi hospital where he had been admitted for the last 10 days.

The peak of Rono's running career was during the 1978 season, where his achievement is unparalleled in the history of distance running.

Rono won gold medals in the 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase at the 1978 Edmonton Commonwealth Games, as well as the 3,000m steeplechase and 10,000m at the 1978 Algiers African Games.

In only 81 days, Rono broke four world records in 10,000m (27:22.5), 5,000m (13:08.4), 3,000m (8:05.4), and 3,000m (7:32.1).

“Rono is remembered as the former record holder for 3,000 metres steeplechase for over a decade. He also set the world record for 5,000m twice; once in 1978 and again in 1981,” said a statement from Athletics Kenya, which led the sporting fraternity to pay tribute to the legend.


Rono's death comes at a time when the country is mourning world marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum.

Read: Kenyan marathon star Kiptum dies in road crash

Kiptum died in a road accident alongside his coach Gervias Hakizimana, along Eldoret-Eldama Ravine Road.

“On behalf of Athletics Kenya Executive Committee and the athletics fraternity, we wish to convey our sincere heartfelt condolence to his family, friends and the entire athletics fraternity during this trying moment,” said the statement.