Kenya’s Kelvin Kiptum, the men’s marathon world record holder, and his coach, Rwanda’s Gervais Hakizimana, have tragically died in a car accident in western Kenya. The 24-year-old athlete had made significant strides in his career, surpassing the achievements of fellow Kenyan marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge by completing a marathon in two hours and 35 seconds in Chicago last October. Both Kiptum and Kipchoge were set to represent Kenya in the upcoming Paris Olympics.
Kenyan Sports Minister Ababu Namwamba and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga paid tribute to Kiptum, describing his loss as a devastating blow to the country. Sebastian Coe, the president of World Athletics, also mourned the loss of Kiptum, praising his incredible legacy.
The fatal accident occurred on Sunday around 23:00 local time. Police reports indicate that Kiptum was driving when the vehicle lost control and rolled, killing both him and Hakizimana instantly. A female passenger was injured and taken to hospital.
Kiptum, a father of two, had a meteoric rise in his career, running his first full marathon only a year ago in 2022. He had planned to attempt a sub-two-hour marathon at the Rotterdam marathon, a feat yet to be achieved in open competition.
Kiptum’s career began on the road, a departure from the traditional path of starting on the track before moving to longer distances. This choice was dictated by financial constraints that prevented him from attending track sessions.
His coach Hakizimana, a retired Rwandese runner, had been instrumental in helping Kiptum target the world record. Their relationship began in 2018, but they first met when Kiptum was still a young boy. Hakizimana remembered him as a barefooted boy herding livestock near his father’s farm.