Athletes call for domestic violence awareness after Tirop’s killing

Agnes Tirop at the Tokyo Olympics
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The killing of 25-year-old Kenyan runner Agnes Tirop has resulted in an outpouring of grief and calls to action.

On Thursday, Kenyan runner Mary Wacera Ngugi, who finished third at the Boston Marathon earlier this week, demanded that Tirop’s killing be a wake-up call.

“Unfortunately many female athletes today still live in fear of their husbands,” Ngugi wrote on Instagram. “I see it so often where a ‘husband’ has control of a woman, treats them as their slave with their athletic earnings and use domestic or psychological abuse to manipulate and control them.”

Tirop, a two-time world championship medalist, was found stabbed to death at her home Iten, Kenya, earlier this week. Her husband, Ibrahim Rotich, was immediately identified as the prime suspect and police said he went on the run after making a tearful phone call to his family confessing he had done something terrible. He was arrested on Thursday after a nationwide manhunt.

Rotich and Tirop were estranged at the time of her killing. Their families had convinced them to try to reconcile and they had apparently met this week to do that.

On Friday, Ngugi followed up with a second Instagram post, noting that her first post “resulted in so many women athletes reaching out to me.”

“[I]t’s made me think the time is NOW to create something together to protect our young athletes and educate for changes,” Ngugi wrote. “Changes that stop men grooming school girls with athletic talent into their property, and changes that give women the power and access to reach out for real help.”

Nguni isn’t the only athlete calling for change and increased awareness.

“[D]omestic violence is killing our women, we can’t be silent while our women (athletes) suffer in silence with others losing their lives,” American marathoner Aliphine Tuliamuk, who was born in Kenya, wrote on Twitter.

On Friday, three-time Olympic medalist Tianna Madison published a blog post about the widespread nature of domestic violence and her own experience.

“I use my voice, and tell the truth about my life and my experiences, and I talk openly about abuse, because there are a few more people within my sphere of influence who feel better about showing up for their friends who might be going through it,” Madison wrote.

“A few more people who understand that it isn’t just ‘weak women’ that get [preyed] upon. A few more people that now know that performing well on the track is not an indication that all is well.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.