Sport is mourning after Kelvin Kiptum, the men’s marathon world record holder, died in a road accident in Kenya late on Sunday night. Kiptum and his coach Garvais Hakizimana died in a collision in the Kaptagat area.
Kiptum burst onto the marathon scene over the last two years, winning the 2023 London Marathon and then stunning the running world to break compatriot Eliud Kipchoge’s world record at the Chicago Marathon in October in 2:00:35. Kiptum was targeting the Rotterdam Marathon in April next, with excitement building at the prospect of an attempt to break the two-hour barrier in an official race for the first time, following Kipchoge’s unofficial run of 1:59:40.2 in Vienna in 2019.
World Athletics president Seb Coe has led the tributes to Kiptum - follow the latest news and reaction to the tragic news below:
Kelvin Kiptum’s story had barely started - his tragic death robs athletics of an extraordinary talent
“In the hunt to find sporting meaning during the strange supporter absence of the 2020 Covid pandemic summer, the Brussels Diamond League opted to stage a rare assault on the one-hour world record.
“Although 13 men lined up on the King Baudouin Stadium startline, the race was little more than a one-man time trial geared solely around Britain’s four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah. Everyone else was there to aid his cause.
“Among the faceless dozen was an unknown Kenyan. At that point in his career, Kelvin Kiptum’s international pedigree was almost non-existent. A year earlier, he had led for some time at the Rotterdam Marathon, although the word ‘Pace’ located where his name would otherwise have been written on his bib betrayed his lowly status as a bit-part in a bigger picture.
“Just as he had on that day, Kiptum failed to finish the one-hour run in the Belgian capital, managing to stick to Farah’s heel for all of 18 minutes before the pace became too tough and he soon dropped out. No one watching would have gleaned the slightest inkling of what he might become.
“The tragic death of one of athletics’ finest ever talents will ensure the Kiptum story is one that remains forever unfinished; barely even started, in fact.”
At 24, the athletics world was only starting to understand how gifted a talent it held in Kiptum. He was destined to go on to claim further marathon records, but tragedy has denied sport of one of its brightest young stars
Kelvin Kiptum, marathon world record holder, dies in car accident
Kiptum, a product of the high altitude region of Kenya which has produced most of the country’s world renowned distance runners, started his international career on the half-marathon circuit in 2019.
He made an explosive entry into the full 42.195km distance by running the then fourth fastest time on record (2.01.53) to win the 2022 Valencia Marathon on debut.
That race revealed his trademark approach to marathons, running with the pack for the first 30kms and then upping the pace and racing off alone for the remainder of the race.
He used the same tactics to win last April’s London Marathon in a course record of 2:01:25 and again in Chicago in October to take 34 seconds off Kipchoge’s world mark.
That was to be his final race before his untimely death, which came only a week after World Athletics had ratified his world record.
Kelvin Kiptum, marathon world record holder, dies in car accident
Kenya’s marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum and his coach were killed in a traffic accident in the Rift Valley on Sunday, cutting short the promising career of the only man to have run the endurance classic in less than two hours and one minute.
The 24-year-old set the world record at the Chicago Marathon in October with a time of two hours and 35 seconds to surpass the mark of 2:01:09 run by compatriot Eliud Kipchoge in Berlin in 2022.
Kiptum, who clocked three of the seven fastest marathon times in history, had been hoping to become the first man to run the marathon in under two hours in race conditions at Rotterdam in April as well as make his Olympic debut in Paris in July.
Kelvin Kiptum marathon results
- Maraton Valencia Trinidad Alfonso EDP 2022: 2:01:53
- TCS London Marathon 2023: 2:01:25
- Bank of America Chicago Marathon: 2:00:35
Chicago Marathon pays tribute to Kenyan
“We are shocked and saddened by the news of the recent death of Kelvin Kiptum. Kelvin was a once in a generation athlete at the front of his career and there is no doubt in my mind that his greatest achievements were ahead of him. We were lucky to witness his greatness on the streets of Chicago.
“While he will be celebrated for his record-breaking performances, I will remember him as an incredible talent and as an even more magnificent person. The sport of marathon running has suffered a tragic loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.” – Carey Pinkowski, Executive Race Director, Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
“Kelvin Kiptum was the 2023 Bank of America Chicago Marathon champion and world record holder (2:00:35).”
Abdi Nageeye pays condolences to Kiptum
Somali-Dutch long-distance runner Abdi Nageeye has recalled how he was running close to the site of Kiptum’s death only a few hours before the accident, and that he had commented in a recent interview about the potential danger on the roads in the area.
London Marathon hails reigning champion Kelvin Kiptum
Hugh Brasher, Event Director of the TCS London Marathon, said:
“Kelvin had the sport of marathon running in his feet and at his feet. He was a ‘once in a generation’ athlete who was set to redefine the boundaries of our sport. Three marathons, three wins. The fastest marathon debutant in Valencia, London’s course record holder and the world record holder in Chicago, all within the space of less than 12 months. His was a flame that burned so bright and last night was tragically put out.
“As a sport we mourn for a life so tragically cut short, a talent and a work ethos that was only starting to be appreciated and a man that we had only just started to know.
“Our thoughts are with his family and friends and those of his coach Gervais.
“We hope that Sharon Chepkurui Kosgei, who was travelling with them, makes a full and speedy recovery.”
Respects paid by fellow athletics stars following Kelvin Kiptum’s death
KENYA’S OLYMPIC CHAMPION AND 800M WORLD RECORD HOLDER DAVID RUDISHA
“I am shocked and deeply saddened to learn the passing of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach Gervais Hakizimana. My condolences to the families, friends, athletic fraternity and Kenya at large. This is a huge loss.”
KENYA’S FIVE-TIME OLYMPIAN BERNARD LAGAT
“I’m shocked to hear of the tragic accident that took the lives of Kevin Kiptum (WR Holder- Marathon) and his Coach today. Gone too soon. RIP Champion”
AUSTRALIA’S ROBERT DE CASTELLA, FORMER WORLD CHAMPION MARATHON RUNNER
“Shocking tragedy! Just like that, a rising superstar is gone. Highlights how precious life is, and how vulnerable we all are.”
More tributes from Kenyan politics
KENYA’S FORMER PRIME MINISTER RAILA ODINGA
“My deepest condolences to his loved ones, friends, and the entire athletics fraternity. Our nation grieves the profound loss of a true hero.”
KENYA’S SPORTS MINISTER ABABU NAMWAMBA
“Kenya has lost a special gem. Lost for words.”
Kenyan president William Ruto pays tribute to Kelvin Kiptum
“Kelvin Kiptum was a star. Arguably one of the world’s finest sportsmen who broke barriers to secure a marathon record.
“He was only 24 yet, as a hero, triumphed in Valencia, Chicago, London and in other top competitions. His mental strength and discipline were unmatched. Kiptum was our future.
“An extraordinary sportsman has left an extraordinary mark in the globe. Our thoughts are with the family and the sporting fraternity. Rest In Peace.”
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