Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum, the men’s marathon world record holder, tragically died in a road accident on Sunday. He was 24 years of age.
The accident, which happened in western Kenya, also took the life of his coach, Gervais Hakizimana of Rwanda.
Kiptum, who emerged as a challenger to fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, set the marathon world record last October in Chicago by completing the distance in just over two hours.
Both athletes were part of Kenya’s preliminary marathon team for the upcoming Paris Olympics.
Tributes have poured in for Kiptum, with Kenyan Sports Minister Ababu Namwamba sharing his grief on X, saying, “Devastatingly sickening! Kenya has lost a special gem.”
Raila Odinga, Kenya’s opposition leader, called Kiptum “a true hero” and “a remarkable individual… and Kenyan athletics icon.”
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe also honoured Kiptum’s legacy, stating he was “an incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy. We will miss him dearly.”
The fatal accident took place around 11pm local time, with police reports indicating that Kiptum was driving when the car rolled over, leading to his immediate death and that of Hakizimana.
A female passenger was injured and taken to hospital.
Kiptum’s rise in the marathon world was incredible, having run his first full marathon only in 2022.
He was known for starting his athletic career on the road, different from the traditional track before moving to longer distances.
Last year, he shared with the BBC that financial constraints led him to this path, saying, “I had no money to travel to track sessions.”
His coach, the 36-year-old Hakizimana, had mentored Kiptum since 2018, remembering their first encounter when Kiptum was just a young boy.
“I knew him when he was a little boy, herding livestock barefooted,” Hakizimana remembered.
Kiptum was married to Asenath Rotich and they had two children together.
Compiled by staff writer
Pictured above: Kelvin Kiptum.
Image source: X