Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum, the world record holder in the marathon, and his coach died on Sunday in a road accident in Rift Valley, Kenya. Thus, the promising career of the only man who ran the marathon in less than two hours and one minute ended, reports Reuters, quoted by news.ro
Kenyan Kelvin KiptumPhoto: TONY KARUMBA / AFP / Profimedia
The 24-year-old athlete set the world record at the Chicago marathon in October with a time of two hours and 35 seconds, thus surpassing the mark of 2:01:09 achieved by his compatriot Eliud Kipchoge in Berlin in 2022 .
Kiptum, who has recorded three of the seven fastest marathon times in history, was hoping to become the first man to run the marathon under two hours under race conditions in Rotterdam in April, as well as making his Olympic debut in in Paris in July.
“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 of World Athletics, we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends, teammates and the Kenyan nation.
According to the Nation newspaper, Kiptum was with his Rwandan coach and a woman in a car near the town of Kaptagat in the Rift Valley when the accident occurred.
Kiptum and Gervais Hakizimana died at the scene, but the woman, Sharon Kosgey, survived with serious injuries and was treated at a local hospital.
Despite the late hour, senior Kenyan politicians and government officials paid tribute to Kiptum.
“Devastating news as we mourn the loss of a remarkable man, Kelvin Kiptum, holder of a world record and symbol of Kenyan athletics,” former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said on the X social media platform.
“Deepest condolences to loved ones, friends and the entire athletics fraternity. Our nation mourns the profound loss of a true hero.”
Kiptum, a product of Kenya’s high-altitude region that has produced most of the country’s world-renowned distance runners, began his international career on the half-marathon circuit in 2019.
He made an explosive entry over the full distance of 42.195km, running the fourth fastest time recorded at the time (2.01.53) to win the 2022 Valencia Marathon on debut.
That race revealed his signature approach to marathons, running with the peloton for the first 30km, then picking up the pace and going solo for the rest of the race.
He used the same tactic to win the London Marathon last April in a course record of 2:01:25, and again in Chicago in October to take 34 seconds off his world record. Kipchoge.
This would be his last race before his untimely death, which came just a week after World Athletics ratified his world record.
Hakizimana, 36, was a former distance runner who still holds Rwanda’s 3,000m steeplechase record. He first met Kiptum when he was training in the Rift Valley and worked with him extensively before last year’s London Marathon.
“I am shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the death of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach Gervais Hakizimana,” David Rudisha, Kenya’s two-time Olympic champion and 800m world record holder, said in a post on X.
“It’s a huge loss.”