Kelvin Kiptum, 24, of Kenya, who held the record for the men’s marathon, passed away as a result of a road accident in his own country.
On Sunday, he and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana of Rwanda, were both slain alongside each other in a car that was traveling on a road in western Kenya.
As a competitor against his fellow countryman Eliud Kipchoge, who is considered to be one of the finest marathon runners, Kiptum achieved a breakthrough in the year 2023.
In addition, Kiptum surpassed Kipchoge’s accomplishment by running the distance of 26.2 miles (42 kilometers) in two hours and 35 seconds while he was in Chicago in October of last year.
Kenya’s Kelvin Kiptum: Marathon world record holder dies in road accident https://t.co/xsazy0SKwx
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) February 11, 2024
They had been selected to be part of Kenya’s preliminary marathon team for the next Olympic Games in Paris, which will take place later this year.
After paying tribute to Kiptum, the Minister of Sports for Kenya, Ababu Namwamba, posted the following message on X: “Devastatingly disgusting!! Sadly, Kenya has lost a precious jewel. “I am at a loss for words.”
Raila Odinga, the head of the opposition in Kenya and a former prime minister, expressed that the nation had lost “a true hero” and was mourning “a remarkable individual… and Kenyan athletics icon”, among other things.
Kiptum was described as “an incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy” by Sebastian Coe, who is the president of World Athletics.
The accident on the road took place on Sunday at approximately 23:00 local time, which is equivalent to 20:00 GMT, according to the police, who were quoted by the AFP news agency.
As the police provided additional information regarding the collision, they stated that Kiptum was the driver of the vehicle, and that the vehicle “lost control and rolled, killing the two on the spot.”
Additionally, according to a spokesperson who was quoted by AFP, the third passenger, who was a female, had sustained injuries and was “rushed to the hospital.”
He had already perfected a specific tactical strategy, which allowed him to run with the pack for thirty kilometers before picking up the pace and going out on his own for the rest of the race.
Kiptum ran on borrowed shoes for his first major competition in 2018, which he participated in since he was unable to buy a pair of his own shoes.
In contrast to the long-standing custom of Kenyan athletes beginning their careers on the track before transitioning to longer distances, he was one of the new generation of Kenyan athletes who started their careers on the road.
In a statement to the BBC from the previous year, Kiptum said that his unconventional choice was just the result of a lack of resources.
“I was unable to travel to track sessions because I did not have the financial means to do so,” he added.
Hakizimana, who was 36 years old at the time, was a former runner from Rwanda. He devoted several months of his time to assisting Kiptum in his pursuit of the world record.
Even though they started working together as coaches and athletes in 2018, the two of them had their first encounter when the current world record holder was much younger.
According to Hakizimana, who recalled the event from the previous year, “I knew him when he was a little boy, herding livestock barefoot.” “It was in 2009 when I was training close to his father’s property. He would come kicking at my heels, and I would chase him away.