Kenya’s Kelvin Kiptum: Road accident kills marathon record holder

Killed in a car accident in his home country of Kenya, Kelvin Kiptum, 24, was the current holder of the world record for the men’s marathon. Both he and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana of Rwanda, were travelling in a car when they were struck and killed on Sunday in western Kenya.

Kiptum was successful in 2023, when he competed against Eliud Kipchoge, a colleague from the same country who is a legendary marathon runner. Furthermore, Kiptum surpassed Kipchoge’s feat in October of last year in Chicago by completing the 26.1-mile-long (42-kilometer) course in two hours and thirty-five seconds.

Both athletes were provisionally selected for Kenya’s marathon squad that will compete at the Olympics in Paris later this year. Ababu Namwamba, the Kenyan minister of sports, lauded Kiptum on social media: “Absolutely revolting! Kenya has forfeited a unique jewel. At a loss for words.

Raila Odinga, former prime minister and leader of the Kenyan opposition, described the deceased as “a genuine hero” and a “remarkable individual and a Kenyan athletics icon.” Odinga added that the nation was in mourning.

The president of World Athletics, Sebastian Coe, remarked that Kiptum was “an extraordinary athlete who bequeathed an extraordinary legacy; we will dearly mourn him.” Sunday at approximately 23:30 local time (2020 GMT), a road accident occurred, according to police, as reported by the sources. 

Kiptum was the driver, according to police who provided additional information about the collision; the vehicle “lost control and rolled, instantly murdering both occupants.”

According to a spokesman, the third passenger, a female, sustained an injury and was “urgently transported to the hospital.” His team announced just last week that he would endeavour to complete the distance in less than two hours at the Rotterdam marathon, an unprecedented feat in open competition.

The father of two experienced an expeditious ascent to renown, having completed his inaugural full marathon in 2022. Four years prior, he competed in his first significant running competition while wearing borrowed shoes because he could not afford his own.

He was part of a new generation of Kenyan athletes who embarked on their professional journeys on the road, departing from the previous practice of athletes commencing their careers on the track before progressing to lengthier distances.

Kiptum explained to the sources the previous year that his atypical decision was merely the result of limited resources. “For economical reasons, I was unable to travel for track sessions,” he elaborated. 36-year-old Hakizimana, his coach, was an ex-runner from Rwanda. He spent months assisting Kiptum in his pursuit of the world record last year.

Although their coach-athlete relationship commenced in 2018, the world record holder and the duo first met when he was a much younger individual.

A year ago, Hakizimana reflected on the time she knew him: when he was a young child, weary ofshoed and herding livestock. “Around his father’s property in 2009, I was in training when he would approach me while biting my heels; I would retreat in pursuit. “His achievement has now earned my appreciation.”