Nairobi, Kenya — World marathon document holder Kelvin Kiptum, who would change into a long-distance operating famous person and was a high contender for gold on the Paris Olympics this yr, was killed alongside along with his coach in a automobile crash in Kenya.
Their car was the one one concerned within the crash late Sunday, and Kiptum was driving when it veered off the highway and right into a ditch earlier than hitting a tree, police mentioned.
Kenyan Kiptum was 24 and probably the most thrilling gamers to emerge on the highway in years, having damaged the world document in simply his third look in an elite marathon. His document, set throughout final yr’s Chicago Marathon, was ratified final week by the worldwide athletics federation World Athletics.
- Advertisement -
His dying reverberated via Kenya, the place runners are the largest sports activities stars. Kenyans have additionally change into accustomed to tragic tales involving their high athletes after quite a few individuals have died in highway accidents, different accidents and circumstances of home violence.
“He was solely 24,” Kenyan President William Ruto mentioned in a press release expressing his condolences. “Kiptum was our future.”
Kiptum and his Rwandan coach, Gervais Hakizimana, had been killed within the crash round 11 p.m., police mentioned. It occurred close to the city of Kaptagat in western Kenya, within the coronary heart of the excessive altitude space often called a coaching base for the perfect distance runners from Kenya and world wide.
Kiptum was born and raised within the space.
A 3rd individual, a 24-year-old girl, was additionally within the automobile and was taken to a hospital with severe accidents, police mentioned. Kiptum and Hakizimana died on the spot.
- Advertisement -
Athletes and relations, together with Kiptum’s father, gathered on the hospital morgue the place the our bodies of Kiptum and his coach had been taken. One of many athletes, former world pinnacle champion Milcah Chemos, struggled to talk as he burst into tears.
“I’ve no phrases to elucidate the lack of Kelvin,” she mentioned.
Kenneth Kimaiyo, a buddy of Kiptum, mentioned he arrived on the scene of the accident shortly after it occurred and Kiptum was thrown from the automobile. Images confirmed the silver automobile with a badly mangled roof and the windshield crushed.
- Advertisement -
Kiptum grew to become the primary man to run the marathon in below 2 hours and 1 minute in an official race when he set the world document of two:00.35 in Chicago in October, beating the mark of fellow Kenyan and marathon nice Eliud Kipchoge, who the reigning two-time Olympic champion.
Kiptum and Kipchoge had been anticipated to place up a tantalizing all-Kenyan battle for marathon gold in Paris and Kiptum was as a consequence of begin his season on the Rotterdam Marathon in April, which might have been his first occasion since breaking the world document.
“An athlete who had a lifetime forward of him to attain unimaginable greatness,” Kipchoge mentioned in a tribute.
World Athletics president Sebastian Coe was among the many first to specific his condolences in a press release on X, previously Twitter.
“We’re shocked and deeply saddened by the devastating lack of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana,” Coe wrote.
“It wasn’t till earlier this week in Chicago, the place the place Kelvin set his extraordinary marathon world document, that I used to be capable of formally ratify his historic time. An unimaginable athlete who leaves an unimaginable legacy, we are going to miss him dearly.”
David Rudisha, Kenya’s two-time Olympic champion within the 800 meters, wrote on X that Kiptum’s dying was “an enormous loss.”
Kiptum discovered speedy success, operating the quickest time ever by a marathon debutant on the 2022 Valencia Marathon. The next yr he gained the races in London and Chicago, two of essentially the most prestigious marathons on the planet. He set a brand new course document on the London Marathon final April and months later grew to become the quickest marathoner on the planet.
Though he was younger and new to the circuit, he had already run three of the seven quickest marathon instances ever and was seen as a uncommon expertise.
However he was additionally the final Kenyan star to die below devastating circumstances.
David Lelei, an All-Africa Video games silver medalist, died in a automobile accident in 2010. Marathon runner Francis Kiplagat was certainly one of 5 individuals killed in a crash in 2018. Nicholas Bett, who gained gold within the 400 meters hurdles on the 2015 world championships, additionally died in a automobile crash in 2018.
Rudisha, former 10,000m world champion Moses Tanui and Olympic silver medalist Paul Tergat have all survived severe highway accidents within the East African nation.
Samuel Wanjiru, the 2008 Olympic marathon champion who was additionally tipped as an all-time nice, died in 2011 on the age of 24 after falling from a balcony at his dwelling in Kenya.
Kenyans had been maybe most shocked when Agnes Tirop, a a number of world cross-country champion, was stabbed to dying in her dwelling in 2021, allegedly by her husband. He was charged with homicide.
Imray reported from Cape City, South Africa.
AP Africa information: