Kenyan police have confirmed that current marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptom and his coach Jervis Hakizimana died in a road accident on Sunday night outside the Rift Valley town of Eldoret.
The 24-year-old Kenyan athlete, who was driving a Toyota Premio, and his coach died at the scene, Elgio Marquette County Police Chief Peter Mulenge told CNN.
Mulling added that a third passenger escaped with serious injuries.
“He lost control of himself, veered off the road, entered a ditch 60 meters away and collided with a large tree,” Mulling said. The accident occurred around 11 pm local time.
Kiptom’s marathon world record of 2:00:35 set at the Chicago Marathon in October last year had been ratified just days before by the IAAF. He only switched to marathon running from shorter distance races a year before setting this record pace.
He improved his personal best time by 50 seconds to break the record of 2:01:09 set by fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, widely considered the greatest marathon runner of all time. Kiptum is widely believed to be Kipchoge’s successor, and a potential contender to run the sub-two hour marathon.
Hakizimana, 36, was a former professional athlete from Rwanda who competed in various races from 5,000 meters to the half marathon.
Kelvin Kiptum celebrates winning the men’s elite race during the TCS London Marathon on Sunday, April 23, 2023.
IAAF President Sebastian Coe said Kiptom was “an amazing athlete who left an amazing legacy, and we will miss him greatly.”
“We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptom and his coach Jervis Hakizimana,” Ko said. “On behalf of all world athletics, we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends, colleagues and the Kenyan nation,” he added.
“It was only earlier this week in Chicago, the place where Kelvin set his extraordinary marathon world record, that I was able to officially authenticate his historic time,” Ko added.
Bob Verbeek, Kiptum’s manager, described the athlete as a “beloved friend.”
“On behalf of all our colleagues and friends at Golazo (Management Group), we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends and the entire athletics family,” Verbeek said in a statement.
Condolence messages also poured in on Kiptum’s official Instagram account following news of his death.
London Marathon organizers A message On X. “We are shocked and deeply saddened. Everyone’s thoughts on the TCS London Marathon with Kelvin and Gervais’ family and friends.
The Prime Minister of Kenya was also among those offering condolences. X’s Raila Odinga described the deaths as “devastating news” and praised Kiptom as an icon of Kenyan athletics. “Our nation mourns the terrible loss of a true hero.”
Kenyan Sports Minister Ababu Namwamba also expressed his condolences at X: “Kenya has lost a special gem. “I’m lost for words.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.