Kelvin Kiptum, the marathon world record holder who was destined to become a star, has died in a car accident.
NAIROBI, Kenya – World marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum, who was destined to become a star in the long-distance race and was a top gold medal contender at this year’s Paris Olympics, has been killed along with his coach in a car crash. In Kenya.
Police said their car was the only one involved in the accident that occurred late on Sunday, and Kiptom was driving his car when it veered off the road and fell into a ditch before hitting a tree.
Kenyan Kiptum was 24 years old and one of the most exciting prospects in the world of road running in years, having broken the world record in only his third appearance in the elite marathon. The record he set at last year’s Chicago Marathon was ratified by the International Association of Athletics Federations just last week.
His death has reverberated throughout Kenya, where runners are the sport’s biggest stars. Kenyans are also accustomed to tragic stories of top athletes after a number of them died in road accidents, other accidents and cases of domestic violence.
“He was only 24 years old,” Kenyan President William Ruto said in a statement offering his condolences. “Kiptom was our future.”
Police said Kiptum and his Rwandan coach, Jervis Hakizimana, died in the accident, which occurred at around 11 p.m. It happened near the town of Kaptagat in western Kenya, in the heart of the highland region famous as a training base for the best long-distance runners from Kenya and around the world.
Kiptom was born and raised in the area.
A third person, a 24-year-old woman, was also in the car and was taken to hospital with serious injuries, police said. Kiptum and Hakizimana died at the scene.
Athletes and family members, including Kiptom’s father, gathered at the hospital morgue where the bodies of Kiptom and his coach were taken. One of the athletes, former women’s hurdles world champion Milka Sheamus, struggled to speak and broke down in tears.
“I have no words to explain Kelvin’s loss,” she said.
Kiptom’s friend, Kenneth Kimaiyo, said he arrived at the scene shortly after it happened and Kiptom was ejected from the car. The photos showed the silver car with a badly damaged roof and a shattered windshield.
Kiptum was the first man to run the marathon in under two hours and one minute in an official race when he set the world record of 2:00.35 in Chicago in October, beating the mark of fellow Kenyan and marathoner Eliud Kipchoge, a two-time defending Olympic champion.
Kiptom and Kipchoge were expected to provide an exciting battle between the two Kenyans for marathon gold in Paris. Kiptom was scheduled to begin his season at the Rotterdam Marathon in April, which will be his first event since breaking the world record.
“An athlete who had a whole life ahead of him to achieve incredible greatness,” Kipchoge said in a tribute message.
World Athletics president Sebastian Coe was one of the first to offer his condolences in a statement on X, formerly Twitter.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptom and his coach Jervis Hakizimana,” Ko wrote.
“Only earlier this week in Chicago, the place where Kelvin set his extraordinary marathon world record, I was able to officially authenticate his historic time. An incredible athlete who has left an incredible legacy. He will be greatly missed.”
David Rudisha, Kenya’s two-time Olympic champion in the 800 metres, wrote on X that Kiptum’s death was a “terrible loss”.
Kiptum achieved instant success by recording the fastest time ever by a marathon debutant at the 2022 Valencia Marathon. The following year, he won the London and Chicago races, two of the most prestigious marathon races in the world. He set a new record in the London Marathon last April and then became the fastest marathon runner in the world months later.
When he was young and new to the track, he had already run three of the seven fastest marathons ever recorded, and was viewed as a rare talent.
But he was also the latest Kenyan star to die in devastating circumstances.
David Lilley, an African Games silver medalist, died in a car crash in 2010. Marathon runner Francis Kiplagat was among five people who died in a crash in 2018. Nicholas Peat, who won gold in the 400-meter hurdles In 2015, he was world champion, and he also died in a car accident in 2018.
Rudisha, former 10,000m world champion Musa Tanui and Olympic silver medalist Paul Tergat survived serious road accidents in the east African country.
Samuel Wanjiru, the 2008 Olympic marathon champion who was also expected to be an all-time great, died in 2011 at the age of 24 after falling from the balcony of his home in Kenya.
Kenyans were perhaps most shocked when Agnes Tirop, multiple world cross-country champion, was stabbed to death in her home in 2021, allegedly by her husband. He was charged with murder.
Imray reported from Cape Town, South Africa.
AP Africa News: https://apnews.com/hub/africa
(tags for translation)track and field