World record holder dies in car accident

Henry

The Kenyan athlete and world record holder for the man who can run a marathon the fastest, died in an accident in his home country.

Kelvin Kiptum (24), a favorite for the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, died on Sunday evening around 23:00 when his car rolled on the way to the city of Eldoret. His coach, Gervais Hakizimana, was in the car with him and also died instantly. A female passenger was injured, said Peter Mulinge, police spokesman for the Elgeyo Marakwet region in Kenya.

Kiptum turned the athletics world on its head when he ran the Chicago Marathon in October last year in an incredible 2:00:35, 34 seconds faster than the then record holder Eliud Kipchoge. This means he ran a blazing two minutes and eight seconds per kilometer. It was the third marathon the 23-year-old athlete had ever run.

Mulinge told reporters that Kiptum was behind the wheel of the vehicle when he lost control of the vehicle and the car rolled.

After Kiptum broke the world record, Kenyan President William Ruto described him as “probably one of the world’s best sportsmen” and “our future”.

World Athletics mourned his death and said his athletics debut was the fastest in history. “We regret the loss of one of the most exciting prospects to emerge in road running in recent years,” said Sebastian Coe, president of World Athletics. “An incredible athlete who leaves behind an incredible legacy. We will miss him very much.”

Kiptum and Kipchoge would compete against each other for the first time during the Olympics. Kiptum also intended to complete a marathon in under two hours in April this year.

Kenya’s two-time Olympic 800m champion, David Rudisha, also paid tribute to Kiptum and described his death as an “enormous loss”.

Kiptum’s death is the latest in a series of tragedies to befall Kenya’s young athletes.

In 2011, Kenya’s marathon athlete Samuel Wanjiru died shortly after winning the Olympic title in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics. He died from a hard blow to the head.

In 2021, long-distance star Agnes Tirop was found dead at the age of 25 in her home near Eldoret. She had several stab wounds on her body. Her husband, Ibrahim Rotich, is charged with her murder.