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Shock as World Marathon record holder Kiptum, coach die in road accident

kiptum

Kelvin Kiptum celebrates his Chicago Marathon world record victory in Chicago's Grant Park on Sunday, October 8, 2023. File | AFP

World Marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum and his Rwandan coach Garvais Hakizimana died Sunday night in a road accident in Kaptagat in the Rift Valley, Kenyan police confirmed.

The accident occurred on Sunday at 11pm along the Elgeyo Marakwet-Ravine road, according to Elgeyo Marakwet Police Commander Peter Mulinge.

Kiptum, who was returning from Eldoret in Uasin Gishu County, lost control of his vehicle, which veered off the road and into a ditch before being stopped by a tree about 60 metres from the main road.

With him was his coach and a female passenger, identified as Sharon Kosgey, who survived the accident and was rushed to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret.

Read: This man Kelvin Kiptum

Kenya mourns

President William Ruto has led the country in mourning the death of Kiptum, eulogising him as a star and arguably one of the best athletes in the world.

"He was only 24 years old and yet he triumphed as a hero in Valencia, Chicago, London and other top competitions. His mental strength and discipline were unparalleled. Kiptum was our future," President Ruto said in a statement.

"An extraordinary sportsman has left an extraordinary mark on the world. Our thoughts are with the family and the sporting community. Rest in peace," he said.

Paying tribute to the champion, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said he was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kiptum and his coach Hakizimana.

"On behalf of World Athletics, we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends, teammates and the Kenyan nation. It was only earlier this week in Chicago, where Kiptum set his extraordinary marathon world record, that I was able to officially ratify his historic time. An incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy, he will be greatly missed," the statement read.

Accident scene

Kelvin Kiptum car

The vehicle which World Marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum, his Rwandese coach Garvais Hakizimana and another occupant were traveling in before they were involved in a fatal road crash on the Eldoret-Eldama Ravine road on February 11, 2024.

According to Kenneth Kimaiyo, who was among the first responders, he had heard about the accident and rushed to the scene.

When he got there, he found a man on a motorcycle helping the woman, who was screaming for help, before she was taken to Savanis Dispensary and later transferred to the referal hospital.

Kimaiyo said he found Kiptum's body under his vehicle while the coach was lying on the hill, still breathing.

"We tried to save the coach because he was still breathing but he died immediately. Kiptum was lying under the car with his seat belt ripped and he was already dead," Kimaiyo said.

Kimaiyo added that he had known Kiptum for a long time as he was a customer of his shop and used to buy things from him in Chepkorio in Elgeyo Marakwet County.

'Promising athlete'

In a statement shared on social media, Bob Verbeek of Golazo Group, a Belgian sports management company that managed the athlete, said they were shocked to learn of Kiptum's death.

"We are deeply saddened to hear that our beloved friend and marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum has passed away in a road accident. Kiptum's coach Gervais Hakizimana was also killed in the accident on the Eldoret-Kaptagat road in Kenya.

"On behalf of all our colleagues and his friends at Golazo, we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends and the entire athletics family," the statement read.

Elgeyo Marakwet County Sports Committee member Purity Koima said it was sad that the world had lost a promising athlete whose star was beginning to shine.

"The other day we were celebrating his achievements and today we are mourning the loss of one of the best athletes in the world. My condolences to the family," she said.

Athletics Kenya athlete representative Milca Chemos said she was shocked to hear of Kiptum's death.

"This is really devastating to lose such a hard-working athlete who took competition to another level. May his soul rest in peace," Chemos said.

Kenya's Kelvin Kiptum wins Chicago Marathon

Kenya's Kelvin Kiptum arrives at the finish line to win the 2023 Bank of America Chicago Marathon in Chicago, Illinois, in a world record time of two hours and 35 seconds on October 8, 2023. File | AFP

Last week, Kiptum's world record of 2:00:35 was ratified by the World Athletics IAAF after he lowered the previous record at the Chicago Marathon in the USA in October.

Read: Kiptum smashes Kipchoge's world record in Chicago Marathon

He was posed to run under two hours at the Rotterdam Marathon on April 14 this year.

He was also in the Kenyan team picked for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.