Marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum died aged 24 in a car accident in his home country of Kenya on Sunday. His coach, Gervais Hakizimana from Rwanda, was also killed in the car crash near Kaptagat, a region in the southwest of Kenya well-known as a training hub for long-distance runners.
A third person who is said to have been critically injured was also rushed to hospital, police said. The 24-year-old athlete, who won the London Marathon in April and later set the world record in Chicago in October, reportedly lost control of his vehicle at 11 pm local time while driving in Kaptagat, southwest Kenya, according to the police.
Gone too Soon
In October, Kiptum created history by winning the Chicago Marathon with a time of 2:00:35, breaking fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge's world record by 34 seconds. Although his remarkable time was only officially ratified by World Athletics last Tuesday.
Kiptum won his first London Marathon victory in April, completing the course in a record time of 2:01:25, which was then the second-fastest marathon time ever. This success came after an impressive debut marathon win in Valencia in December 2022.
With his outstanding performances, Kiptum was considered the favorite for a gold medal at the upcoming Olympics in Paris this summer. The anticipated showdown against his teammate Kipchoge, the two-time defending champion at 39 years old, promised to be a highly anticipated event.
World Athletics president Seb Coe led the tributes to Kiptum on Sunday night, describing him as "an incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy."
"We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana," he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
"On behalf of all World Athletics we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends, teammates and the Kenyan nation.
"It was only earlier this week in Chicago, the place where Kelvin set his extraordinary marathon world record, that I was able to officially ratify his historic time. An incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy, we will miss him dearly."
Great Loss for Sports Fraternity
Raila Odinga, Kenya's prime minister from 2008 to 2013, wrote on X: "Devastating news as we mourn the loss of a remarkable individual, Kelvin Kiptum, World Record holder and Kenyan athletics icon. Together with his coach, they tragically passed on in an accident tonight.
"My deepest condolences to his loved ones, friends, and the entire athletics fraternity. Our nation grieves the profound loss of a true hero."
Kenya's Minister for Sports, Ababu Namwamba, expressed deep sorrow, stating, "Devastatingly sickening! Kenya has lost a special gem. Lost for words."