Former World Athletics Championships Gold-medallist Nicholas Bett Dies In Car Crash

Former World Athletics Championships gold-medallist Nicholas Bett has been killed in a car crash aged 28 back home in Kenya. 

Bett died near Nandi County, Kenya on Wednesday morning as he returned from competing at the African Continental Championships in Nigeria the day before.

Local police commander Patrick Wambani reported the vehicle had struck a bump and veered off the road before landing in a ditch near Lessos, Nandi County.

The hurdler had become the first Kenyan ever to win a short-distance (under 800m) race on the world stage when he claimed gold in the 400m hurdles at Beijing 2015.

Bett made his breakthrough at the 2011 Kenyan Athletics Championships and his strong form saw him selected for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, where he missed out narrowly on the 400m hurdles final. 

At the African Championships in Marrakesh, Morocco he secured two bronze medals - in the 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay with his Kenyan team-mates - despite carrying a foot injury heading into the tournament.

Undoubtedly the crowning glory of Bett's career was at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing where he upset the odds to finish with a gold medal. 

Bett had scraped through to the World Athletics Championships 400m hurdles final, finishing in the last qualification spot by five hundreths of a second.

But despite starting in lane nine, Bett upset the odds by finishing first with a time of 48.37 to race clear ahead of Russia's Denis Kudryavtsev in second.

Bett also appeared at the 2016 Rio Olympics as the reigning world champion but suffered disappointment as he crashed out in the first round. 

Much had been expected of Bett in Rio but he suffered disappointment when he was disqualified, miscalculating his leap and clipping the final hurdle during a heat.

Injuries hampered Bett's form in much of the two years that followed Rio but he returned to action at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Bett finished eighth in the 400m hurdles in Australia this year while his Kenya team failed to qualify for the 4x400m relay.

Following news of Bett's death, the Kenyan Athletics association tweeted: 'We regret to learn of the sudden demise of one of our top athletes, the 2015 400m Hurdles World Champion Nicholas Kiplagat Bett who represented Kenya in the just concluded Africa Championships. Our condolences to his family and the entire athletics fraternity.'

Kenyan sports minister Rashid Echesa joined the association in paying tribute to Bett, writing: 'On behalf of the sporting fraternity and my ministry of sport, I convey my sincerest condolences to his family. Rest in peace.'

The International Associations of Athletics Federations also tweeted their condolences saying that they were 'deeply saddened' by Bett's passing.  

Bett failed to reach the podium at the 2018 African Championships but Kenya topped the medal table with 11 golds in total, two ahead of South Africa and Nigeria.

The former athlete's body was recovered from his vehicle's wreckage and transported to a nearby hospital in Eldoret in west Kenya. 

Bett, whose twin brother Aron Koech is also an international 400m hurdler, was a father to two-year-old twins.