World record holder Kelvin Kiptum from Kenya dies in car accident

World record holder Kelvin Kiptum from Kenya dies in car accident

In Kenya, 24-year-old Kelvin Kiptum, a world record holder in the marathon who was training to become the first athlete to complete it in under two hours, was killed in a car accident. The tragedy occurred late on Sunday evening after the athlete lost control of his own car. Along with Kiptum, his Rwandan coach Gervais Hakizimana also died.

The tragic death of Kelvin Kiptum, the world record holder in marathon running (42.195 km), was reported by all world news agencies. The fatal accident happened around 11 p.m. local time. The Toyota Premio, driven by Kiptum, lost control on the road from Kaptagat to Eldoret and, after driving about 60 m along a ditch on the left side, crashed into a tree. The driver and Gervais Hakizimana, Kiptum's Rwandan coach, died instantly. The second passenger, a woman, was hospitalized with multiple serious injuries.

Kelvin Kiptum's sports career was very short, but extremely bright. He was born in Chepkorio, a mountain village located at an altitude of approximately 2,600 m in the Rift Valley, a region in western Kenya that has produced the vast majority of the country's famous middle- and long-distance runners, including two-time (1968, 1972) Olympic champion Kipchoge Keino, two-time (2016, 2021) Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge. Kiptum started training at the age of 13. At the same age, he tried to run his first half-marathon, and in 2020, Kiptum began working full-time with Gervais Hakizimana, a famous Rwandan specialist with whom he had known before.

In 2022, in Valencia, Kiptum ran his first official marathon in 2:01.53, an excellent result for a first-timer and immediately becoming only the third person to complete the distance in under 2 hours 2 minutes.

In April 2023, in London, he improved his personal best to 2:01.25, and in October in Chicago, he set a world record of 2:00.35, shaving 34 seconds from Eliud Kipchoge’s previous achievement and being the first in the world to run a marathon faster than 2 hours 1 minutes.

It was expected that in April 2024, Kiptum would attempt to run out of two hours (for this purpose, he said, he worked on a special schedule, according to which he covered about 270 km in some weeks), and at the Olympics in Paris he would run a marathon with his legendary fellow countryman - 39-year-old Kipchoge. “We looked forward to welcoming him into the Olympic community at the Paris Olympic Games and seeing what the world's fastest marathon runner can achieve,” said International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. But now the plans of the talented athlete are not destined to come true.

Famous runners from different countries, the President of World Athletics, Briton Sebastian Coe, the President of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya, and the former famous Kenyan runner Paul Tergat, also expressed their grief over his death. They were joined by well-known Kenyan politicians, including the country's President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Kiptum's death continues a series of tragic stories involving Kenyan runners.

In 2011, under unclear circumstances, Samuel Wanjiru, Olympic champion of the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the marathon, died after falling from the balcony of his house. In 2021, renowned long-distance runner Agnes Tirope, who twice won bronze in the 10km race at the world championships, was found stabbed to death at her home in Iten, near Eldoret. Her husband Ibrahim Rotich, charged with murder, appeared in court last November. And three months ago, Benjamin Kiplagat, a Ugandan runner of Kenyan origin, was found in his car, also near Eldoret, with a fatal stab wound to the neck. Two men are accused of his death.

Evgeniy Fedyakov

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