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Damaris Muthee Mutua: Murdered runner’s career ‘was picking up’

Damaris Muthee Mutua’s final race was in Luanda, Angola, on 3 AprilThe Kenyan town of Iten has been rocked by the second murder of a female athlete in the space of six months.The killing of Damaris Muthee Mutua that was reported this week came after two-time World Athletics Championships bronze medallist Agnes Tirop was found stabbed to death last October.Mutua, 28, did not have the profile of Tirop but her death has again amplified concerns surrounding femicides and the safety of female athletes in the east African country.Mutua was born in Kenya and switched to compete for Bahrain, but she trained in Kapsabet, a town between Iten and Eldoret, and located in a Kenyan region famous for producing and nurturing long-distance runners.In 2010, Mutua won bronze for her homeland Kenya over 1,000m at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.Her best season came in 2018 when she ran career-bests for the 20km (one hour, eight minutes and 28 seconds – the best time of the year) as she won a race in Marrakesh, as well as the half-marathon (1:11:51), finishing second at an event in Mozambique.She had enjoyed a good start to 2022, taking second place in the Arab Cross Country Championship in Bahrain in February before coming third at the Luanda half-marathon in Angola in early April.”She was an upcoming road runner. People would describe her as someone with very good discipline,” Elias Makori, managing editor for sport at Nation Media Group, told BBC Sport.”Earlier this month, she was third in a very tough half-marathon race in Angola. She was found dead just when her career on the road was picking up.”Mutua won a bronze medal at the Youth Olympic Games in 2010’A life cut short’ A man-hunt is under way for Mutua’s Ethiopian boyfriend, who trained at the same high-altitude centre.Athletics Kenya said it was “extremely grieved” by her death.”It is another case of a life cut short and a talent washed down the drain considering the achievements Damaris had made in her career,” a statement from the body added.”Even though she had shifted allegiance, Damaris was a Kenyan by blood. Her demise is more painful considering this is not the first time a bright future has been snuffed out by domestic violence.”Athletics Kenya has again been confronted by issues experienced by some female athletes, who have concerns over domestic violence, other marital issues, and the role of male coaches exploiting runners.”It [Mutua’s death] comes after a series of sensitisation clinics were done around the country to give athletes moral support and look at their mental health, which is an issue of serious concern,” Makori said.”Just when we thought things were going to turn around for the better, then this happens.”

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