Kenya’s Henry Rono, who set four records in 81 days, passes away at 72

Henry Rono was a legendary Kenyan athlete, known for his remarkable achievements in middle-distance and long-distance running. Born on 12 February 1952 in Kiptaragon in Kenya’s Rift Valley, Rono overcame a childhood bicycle accident that initially left him unable to walk.

Inspired by two-time Olympic champion Kip Keino, Rono pursued a career in running and joined the Kenyan Army in 1973. Rono’s career reached its peak in the late 1970s when he set multiple world records.

In 1978, he improved the 5000m record by setting a time of 13:08.4, breaking the previous record set by Dick Quax. He then went on to break the 3000m steeplechase record, the 10,000m record, and the 3000m indoor record within a span of two months.

This included shaving off more than three seconds from the 3000m steeplechase record previously held by Brendan Foster and setting the 10,000m record with a time of 27:22.47 in Vienna. Rono’s exceptional athletic career also included notable achievements at the NCAA level, winning three cross-country titles and multiple NCAA championships.

Additionally, he graduated from Washington State University with a degree in general studies in 1981, where he continued to excel in track and field. Following his retirement from competitive athletics, Rono pursued a career as a teacher and coach.

In a 2003 interview, he expressed his gratitude for achieving his two childhood dreams – becoming a professional teacher and a track champion. Sadly, Henry Rono passed away at the age of 72, leaving behind a lasting legacy in the world of athletics.

His remarkable accomplishments and inspirational journey continue to be remembered and celebrated by the global athletics community.

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