Record holder Kelvin Kiptum dead. African Athletes. In a tragic incident, Kelvin Kiptum, the 24-year-old holder of the men’s marathon world record, lost his life in a road accident in western Kenya. The accident, which occurred on Sunday, also claimed the life of his coach, Gervais Hakizimana from Rwanda.
Kiptum had risen to fame in 2023 as a strong contender to Eliud Kipchoge, one of the greatest marathon runners. Notably, in October of the same year in Chicago, Kiptum beat Kipchoge’s achievement by completing the 26.2 miles in two hours and 35 seconds.
Both athletes were part of Kenya’s provisional marathon team for the coming Paris Olympics. Kiptum had recently announced his attempt to break the two-hour barrier at the Rotterdam marathon, a feat yet to be achieved in open competition.
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The road accident occurred around 23:00 local time on Sunday, with Kiptum as the driver. The vehicle lost control, resulting in a fatal rollover that claimed the lives of both Kiptum and Hakizimana. A third passenger, a female, sustained injuries and was rushed to the hospital.
Kenyan Sports Minister Ababu Namwamba expressed profound sorrow, describing Kiptum’s loss as “devastatingly sickening,” and Raila Odinga, Kenya’s opposition leader, called him “a true hero” and a “remarkable individual.”
Sebastian Coe, the president of World Athletics, acknowledged Kiptum as “an incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy.” Kiptum’s rapid rise to fame included notable achievements such as winning the Valencia Marathon and setting a course record at the London Marathon.
His distinctive tactical approach involved running with the pack for the initial 30 kilometers before accelerating and leading the race alone. Kiptum, a father-of-two, began his marathon career in 2022, quickly making an impact with impressive performances.
His tragic passing marks the end of a promising career that saw him break records and leave an indelible mark on the world of marathon running.
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Kelvin Kiptum revealed to the BBC last year that his unconventional choice of road running over track sessions was driven by a simple lack of financial resources. “I had no money to travel to track sessions,” he explained.
His coach, Gervais Hakizimana, aged 36, was a retired Rwandese runner. Hakizimana had dedicated months last year to assisting Kiptum in targeting the world record. Although their formal coaching relationship began in 2018, their initial encounter took place when Kiptum was just a young boy.
“I knew him when he was a little boy, herding livestock barefooted,” Hakizimana reminisced last year. “It was in 2009, I was training near his father’s farm; he’d come kicking at my heels, and I would chase him away. Now, I am grateful to him for his achievement.”