NAIROBI, Kenya – Marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum, a top contender for gold at this year’s Paris Olympics, has died in a car crash with his coach. In Kenya.
Their vehicle was the only one involved in the crash late Sunday, and Kiptum was driving off the road into a ditch before hitting a tree, police said.
Kenyan Kiptum is 24 years old and has been one of the hottest prospects in road running for years, breaking the world record in just his third marathon. Last year’s record in the Chicago Marathon was approved by the International Track Federation at the World Athletics Championships last week.
She died in Kenya, where runners are the biggest sports stars. Kenyans are used to tragic stories involving their greatest athletes after they die in road accidents, other accidents and cases of domestic violence.
“He was only 24 years old,” Kenyan President William Ruto said in a statement of condolences. “Kiptum was our future.”
At 11pm, Kiptum and Rwandan coach Gervis Hakizimana were killed in the crash, police said. It happened near Kaptagat, a town in the heart of the high altitude region known as a training ground for some of the best distance runners in Kenya and the world.
Kiptum 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 Kiptum’s father, gathered at the hospital morgue where Kiptum’s and coach’s bodies were taken. One of the athletes, former women’s steeplechase world champion Milka Chemos, struggled to speak through tears.
“I have no words to explain the loss of Kelvin,” she said.
Kenneth Kimayo, a friend of Kiptum, said he arrived at the scene shortly after the accident and Kiptum was thrown from the car. The photos showed the silver car with a badly dented roof and a flat windshield.
Kiptum, a two-time Olympic champion, was the first person to run a marathon in less than 2 hours and 1 minute, setting a world record time of 2:00.35 in Chicago in October.
Kiptum and Kipchoge were expected to battle all Kenyan glamor for marathon gold in Paris and Kiptum was due to start his season at the Rotterdam Marathon in April, his first since breaking the world record.
Kipchoge, an athlete who has had his whole life ahead of him to achieve incredible greatness, has spoken to a tribute.
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe was one of the first to offer his condolences in a statement on Twitter earlier this month.
“We are shocked and saddened to hear of the tragic loss of Kelvin Kiptum and coach Gervis Hakizimana,” Coe wrote.
“It was only earlier this week in Chicago where Kelvin set his incredible marathon world record that I was able to officially confirm his historic time. An amazing athlete who left an incredible legacy, we will miss him dearly.
David Rudisha, Kenya’s two-time Olympic champion in the 800m, wrote on X that Kiptum’s death was “a great loss”.
Kiptum achieved immediate success by running the 2022 Valencia Marathon as the marathon’s first competitor. The following year, he won two of the most famous marathons in the world, London and Chicago. Months after setting a new course record at the London Marathon last April, he became the world’s fastest marathon runner.
When he was young and new to the circuit, he was seen as a rare talent, running three of the seven fastest marathon times ever recorded.
But it was also Kenya’s latest star who died under tragic circumstances.
All Africa Games silver medalist David Lele in 2011 World Championships He died in a car accident in 2018.
Rudisha, former 10,000m world champion Moses Tanui and Olympic silver medalist Paul Tergat survived serious road accidents in the East African country.
Samuel Wanjiru, the 2008 Olympic marathon champion, died in 2011 at the age of 24 after falling from the balcony of his home in Kenya.
Agnes Thirop, the multi-country world champion Kenyans were shocked when she was allegedly stabbed to death by her husband in her home in 2021. He was charged with murder.
Imrai reports from Cape Town, South Africa.
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