'Rest In Peace Kelvin Kiptum': World Mourns Tragic Death Of Marathon World Record Holder In Car Accident At 24


(MENAFN- AsiaNet News) Kelvin Kiptum, marathon world record-holder and a top contender for the Paris Olympics, tragically died in a car crash in western Kenya, as confirmed by the police on Monday. The 24-year-old was traveling from Kaptagat to Eldoret around 11 pm (2000 GMT) on Sunday when the vehicle overturned, claiming the lives of both Kiptum and his Rwandan coach, Gervais Hakizimana.

"The car had three occupants, two died on the spot, while one was taken to hospital. The two are Kiptum and his coach," said Peter Mulinge, police commander for Elgeyo Marakwet County in western Kenya where the accident occurred.

"It is Kiptum who was driving heading to Eldoret and the vehicle lost control and rolled, killing the two on the spot. A female passenger sustained injuries and has been rushed to hospital," he told reporters.

At 23 years old, Kiptum burst onto the marathon scene by shattering the world record with a remarkable 2:00:35 finish in Chicago in October, surpassing fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge's previous record by 34 seconds. Remarkably, this was only his third marathon competition.

Kiptum had triumphed in his debut race in Valencia in 2022 and followed up with another victory in London the subsequent year. His ambitious goal was to become the first person to officially complete a marathon in under two hours, with plans to attempt this feat in Rotterdam on April 14.

Regrettably, his promising career was tragically cut short. Kiptum was also widely expected to excel in the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.

World Athletics remembered Kiptum as "one of the most exciting new prospects to emerge in road running in recent years".

"We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana," World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said in a statement. "On behalf of all World Athletics, we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends, teammates and the Kenyan nation."

Just last week, Coe stated that he had visited Chicago "to officially ratify" Kiptum's historic time.
"An incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy, we will miss him dearly."

David Rudisha, the two-time Olympic 800m champion from Kenya, expressed being "shocked and deeply saddened" by the news.
"This is a huge loss," he posted on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

Athletics Kenya offered condolences to "the entire athletics community during this difficult time," while Kiptum's agent, Marc Corstjens, also verified the "sad news."

Kiptum, originally from Chepkorio, a village in the Rift Valley renowned for Kenyan distance running, tragically passed away in the very heartland of his athletic roots.

A decade ago, barely a teenager, he tended to goats and sheep before immersing himself in the training routines of Hakizimana, a Rwandan native, and other runners in the legendary high-altitude region.

By 2019, Kiptum showcased his talent with impressive performances, completing two half-marathons within a fortnight: clocking 60:48 in Copenhagen and an impressive 59:53 in Belfort, France. He began rigorous training sessions with Hakizimana, who remained in Kenya even amidst the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here's a look at some of the condolences offered:

Kiptum's untimely death adds to a series of tragedies that have struck Kenya's aspiring young athletes.

In 2011, the legendary Kenyan marathoner Samuel Wanjiru passed away at the age of 24, shortly after clinching the Olympic title in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics. A pathologist concluded that Wanjiru succumbed to injuries sustained from a blow to the head with a blunt object.

In 2021, the long-distance running sensation Agnes Tirop was tragically discovered stabbed to death at the age of 25 in her residence in Iten, near Eldoret. Her husband, Ibrahim Rotich, faced trial for her murder in November of the same year. Despite denying the accusation, Rotich was granted bail just before the commencement of the trial.

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