Nairobi, Feb 12, (dpa/GNA) – Kenya and world sport, are mourning the death of marathon world record holder, Kelvin Kiptum, who died at age 24 in a car accident on Sunday night in his home country.
Kiptum died together with his coach Gervais Hakizimana, who was in the car with him, in the accident along Eldoret-Kaptagat Road in Kenya, the ruling body World Athletics said in an obituary.
Kiptum dethroned countryman Eliud Kipchoge as world record holder by 34 seconds, with a time of 2 hours 35 seconds last October in Chicago.
He was tipped to become the first man to go below 2 hours in a regular race, after Kipchoge had achieved the feat under lab conditions, which don’t allow ratification as a record.
Kipchoge said on social media he was “deeply saddened by the tragic passing” of Kiptum, “an athlete who had a whole life ahead of him to achieve incredible greatness.”
Multiple world and Olympic distance running champion, Mo Farah of Britain said on X, formerly Twitter: “Kelvin was an amazingly talented athlete, and had already achieved so much.
“He truly had a special talent, and I have no doubt he would have gone on to have had an incredible career.”
World Athletics President, Sebastian Coe, said in a federation obituary: “We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana.”
“On behalf of all World Athletics, we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends, teammates and the Kenyan nation.
“An incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy, we will miss him dearly.”
International Olympic Committee (IOC) president, Thomas Bach, also reacted shocked.
“It is with extreme sadness that I learnt of the tragic passing of world marathon record-holder Kelvin Kiptum from Kenya in a car accident,” Bach said on the IOC account on X.
“We had been looking forward to welcoming him into the Olympic community at the Olympic Games Paris 2024, and seeing what the fastest marathon runner in the world could achieve.”
In Kenya, the nation’s president, William Ruto, said on X that “Kiptum was our future.
“Kelvin Kiptum was a star. Arguably one of the world’s finest sportsmen who broke barriers to secure a marathon record. An extraordinary sportsman has left an extraordinary mark in the globe. Our thoughts are with the family and the sporting fraternity. Rest In Peace,” Ruto said.
Sports minister Ababu Namwamba said that “the cruel hand of death has robbed Kenya and the world a truly precious sporting gem.
“Kelvin was only getting started, and was destined to rule the world of elite marathon running for long. My deepest condolences to the family of Kelvin and the entire athletics & sporting fraternity. Rest well champion,” he said on X.
Kiptum only started running seriously from age 13, and unlike other marathon greats, never really spent any time on stadium tracks.
He arrived on the scene in December 2022 in Valencia, with the fastest ever debut over the 42.195 kilometres, 2:01:52 hours. In April he won the London Marathon in 2:01:25 before getting the record in Chicago.
Kiptum was set to run his next marathon in April in Rotterdam, which also has the reputation of a very fast course.
That ended on Sunday night at around 11pm, when according to news reports, citing local police, Kiptum as the driver, lost control of the car, swerved off the road, and hit a tree before coming to a standstill in a ditch. No other vehicles were reportedly involved.
Kiptum and Hakizimana died on the scene, while a female passenger was taken to hospital with serious injuries.