Marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum has died at the age of 24 following a car crash in his native Kenya.
His coach, Rwanda’s Gervais Hakizimana, was also killed in the road accident near Kaptagat, an area in the south-west of the country renowned as a training base for distance runners.
Kiptum made history in October when he clocked 2:00.35 to win the Chicago Marathon, smashing his fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge’s world record by 34 seconds. His landmark time was only officially ratified by World Athletics last Tuesday.
World Athletics president Seb Coe led the tributes to Kiptum on Sunday night, saying he was ‘an incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy’.
He wrote on X: ‘We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana.
Marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum has died at the age of 24
Kiptum (L) and his coach Gervais Hakizimana (R) reportedly died in a road accident in Kenya’s Kaptagat area at 11pm local time
Kiptum made history last October when he clocked 2:00.35 to win the Chicago Marathon
World Athletics president Seb Coe paid tribute to Kiptum and Hakizimana on Sunday night
‘On behalf of all World Athletics we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends, teammates and the Kenyan nation.
‘It was only earlier this week in Chicago, the place where Kelvin set his extraordinary marathon world record, that I was able to officially ratify his historic time.
‘An incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy, we will miss him dearly.’
Kiptum also won his first London Marathon last April in a course record of 2:01.25, which was then the second fastest marathon time ever. It followed an eye-catching victory on his marathon debut in Valencia in December 2022.
Kiptum would have been the favourite to win gold at this summer’s Olympics in Paris, in what was set to be an almighty showdown against his team-mate Kipchoge, the 39-year-old two-time defending champion.
Raila Odinga, Kenya’s prime minister from 2008 to 2013, wrote on X: ‘Devastating news as we mourn the loss of a remarkable individual, Kelvin Kiptum, World Record holder and Kenyan athletics icon. Together with his coach, they tragically passed on in an accident tonight.
The 24-year-old would have been the favourite to win gold at this summer’s Olympics in Paris
‘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 minister for sports Ababu Namwamba wrote: ‘Devastatingly sickening! Kenya has lost a special gem. Lost for words.’