Somali Magazine – Kelvin Kiptum, the marathon world record holder who was expected to be a long-distance running sensation and a top candidate for gold at the Olympics in Paris this year, was killed in a car crash in Kenya alongside his coach.
Their vehicle was the only one involved in the incident late Sunday, and Kiptum was driving when it swerved off the road and into a ditch before colliding with a tree, authorities said.
Kenya’s Kiptum, 24, was one of the most promising road runners in years, having broken the world record in only his third competitive marathon appearance. His record, established at last year’s Chicago Marathon, was recently confirmed by World Athletics, an international track association.
His death rippled throughout Kenya, where runners are the most prominent sports heroes. Kenyans have also grown accustomed to tragic stories involving their top athletes, as a number have perished in traffic accidents, other mishaps, and domestic abuse incidents.
“He was only 24,” Kenyan President William Ruto stated in a statement to express his sorrow. “Kiptum was our future.”
Kiptum and his Rwandan coach, Gervais Hakizimana, were killed in the crash at approximately 11 p.m., according to authorities. It happened near the town of Kaptagat in western Kenya, in the heart of the high-altitude region known as a training ground for Kenya’s and the world’s top distance runners.
Kiptum was born and nurtured in this neighbourhood.
A third person in the automobile, a 24-year-old woman, was brought to the hospital with significant injuries, according to police. Kiptum and Hakizimana perished on the scene.
Athletes and family members, including Kiptum’s father, gathered at the hospital mortuary where the bodies of Kiptum and his coach were transported. Milcah Chemos, former women’s steeplechase world champion, struggled to talk as she burst into tears.
“I have no words to explain the loss of Kelvin,” she went on to say.
Kenneth Kimaiyo, Kiptum’s buddy, said he arrived at the crash scene shortly after it occurred and discovered Kiptum had been flung out of the car. Photos revealed the silver automobile with a badly damaged roof and a broken windscreen.
Kiptum became the first man to run the marathon in under 2 hours and 1 minute in an official competition when he broke the world record of 2:00.35 in Chicago in October, defeating fellow Kenyan and marathon legend Eliud Kipchoge, the reigning two-time Olympic champion.
Kiptum and Kipchoge were supposed to present an interesting all-Kenyan battle for marathon gold in Paris, and Kiptum was scheduled to begin his season at the Rotterdam Marathon in April, his first race since setting the world record.
“An athlete who had a whole life ahead of him to achieve incredible greatness,” Kipchoge wrote in a memorial statement.
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe was among the first to express his sympathies in a message on X, formerly Twitter.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana,” Coe said in a statement.
“I was only able to officially ratify Kelvin’s amazing time earlier this week, in Chicago, when he set his extraordinary marathon world record. We will miss him greatly. He was an incredible athlete with an incredible legacy.
Kenya’s two-time Olympic 800 metres champion, David Rudisha, wrote on X that Kiptum’s death was “a huge loss.”
Kiptum made an immediate impact by running the quickest time ever by a marathon debutant at the 2022 Valencia Marathon. The next year, he won two of the world’s most prestigious marathons: London and Chicago. He broke a new course record at the London Marathon last April and became the world’s fastest marathoner months later.
Despite his youth and inexperience on the circuit, he had already run three of the seven fastest marathon times in history and was regarded as a unique talent.
But he was also the most recent Kenyan star to die in tragic circumstances.
David Lelei, an All-Africa Games silver medalist, was killed in a car crash in 2010. In 2018, an accident killed five individuals, including marathon runner Francis Kiplagat. Nicholas Bett, who won gold in the 400-meter hurdles at the 2015 World Championships, was also killed in a car accident in 2018.
Rudisha, former 10,000-meter world champion Moses Tanui, and Olympic silver medalist Paul Tergat have all survived horrific traffic incidents in the East African country.
Samuel Wanjiru, the 2008 Olympic marathon champion who was also regarded as an all-time great, died in 2011 at the age of 24 after falling from a balcony at his house in Kenya.
Kenyans were perhaps most shocked when Agnes Tirop, a multiple cross-country world champion, was stabbed to death in her home in 2021, allegedly by her husband. He was charged with murder.