- By Celestine Karoney
- BBC Sport Africa, Nairobi
The boys’s marathon world report holder, Kenya’s Kelvin Kiptum, 24, has died in a highway accident in his dwelling nation.
He was killed alongside his coach, Rwanda’s Gervais Hakizimana, in a automotive on a highway in western Kenya on Sunday.
Kiptum made a breakthrough in 2023 as a rival to compatriot Eliud Kipchoge – one of many best marathon runners.
Kiptum bettered Kipchoge’s report, clocking the 26.2 miles (42km) in two hours and 35 seconds in Chicago final October.
The 2 athletes had been named in Kenya’s provisional marathon group for the Paris Olympics later this 12 months.
Kipchoge mentioned on X that the person who broke his report was a rising star who had “a whole life” ahead of him to attain “unimaginable greatness”, providing condolences to his household.
Additionally paying tribute, Kenya’s President William Ruto described Kiptum as an extraordinary sportsman who had left a mark on the world.
His father Samson Cheruiyot was distraught.
“Kiptum was my solely baby, now he is left me,” he informed Kenya’s Citizen TV. “I do not know what to say, I see his kids will probably be seeking to me and my baby is gone… Now, who will assist us increase his youngsters?”
The highway accident occurred at about 23:00 native time (20:00 GMT) on Sunday.
Giving particulars of the crash, police mentioned Kiptum was driving and had “misplaced management [of the vehicle] and veered off-road coming into right into a ditch on his left facet”.
“He drove within the ditch for about 60 metres earlier than hitting an enormous tree,” a police assertion mentioned.
Kiptum and Hakizimana died on the web site of a collision. A 3rd individual within the car – a younger girl – was severely injured and brought to hospital for therapy.
Simply final week, Kiptum’s group introduced that he would try and run the marathon in below two hours in Rotterdam in April – a feat that has by no means been achieved in open competitors.
The rise to fame for the father-of-two had been fast – he solely competed in his first full marathon in 2022.
He made an on the spot affect as he ran the then fourth quickest time on report (2:01:53) to win the Valencia Marathon earlier than setting a course report of two:01:25 on the London Marathon in April 2023.
Six months later, in simply his third marathon, Kiptum took 34 seconds off the world report time in Chicago in his closing race.
He had already honed a definite tactical strategy that noticed him run with the pack for 30km earlier than upping the tempo and going out on his personal for the rest of the race.
Kiptum entered his first main competitors in 2018, operating in borrowed footwear as a result of he couldn’t afford a pair of his personal.
He was amongst a brand new crop of Kenyan athletes who started their careers on the highway, breaking away from the previous custom of athletes beginning on the observe earlier than switching to longer distances.
Kiptum informed the BBC final 12 months that his uncommon selection was merely decided by an absence of assets.
“I had no cash to journey to trace periods,” he defined.
Folks have gathered outdoors the hospital within the Rift Valley city of Eldoret the place his physique has been taken.
“I do not know what to say however God, if we now have completed mistaken, God forgive us as a result of Kiptum was headed for nice heights,” one man mentioned.
“We need to say very sorry to the Kenyans and way more to the household of the departed hero. Very sorry,” one other informed an area TV channel.
Kiptum’s coach, Hakizimana, 36, was a retired Rwandan runner. Final 12 months, he spent months serving to Kiptum goal the world report.
Their relationship as coach and athlete started in 2018, however the pair first met when the world report holder was a lot youthful.
“I knew him when he was a bit of boy, herding livestock barefooted,” Hakizimana recalled final 12 months. “It was in 2009, I used to be coaching close to his father’s farm, he’d come kicking at my heels and I might chase him away.
“Now, I’m grateful to him for his achievement.”