Kelvin Kiptum, the 24-year-old Kenyan marathon record holder, tragically lost his life in a fatal car crash in western Kenya. The accident also claimed the life of his coach, Gervais Hakizimana of Rwanda, marking a devastating loss for the athletic world.
Kiptum rose to prominence in 2023 as a formidable rival to marathon legend Eliud Kipchoge. His crowning achievement came in October last year, when he surpassed Kipchoge’s milestone by completing the 26.2 miles in an astonishing two hours and 35 seconds during the Chicago Marathon. Both Kiptum and Kipchoge were selected for Kenya’s marathon team at the upcoming Paris Olympics.
The news of Kiptum’s untimely demise sent shockwaves across Kenya and the global sports community. Kenyan Sports Minister Ababu Namwamba expressed deep sorrow, describing Kiptum as a “special gem” lost. Raila Odinga, Kenya’s opposition leader, mourned the loss of “a true hero” and an icon of Kenyan athletics. Sebastian Coe, president of World Athletics, hailed Kiptum as an “incredible athlete,” leaving behind an enduring legacy.
The fatal accident occurred late on Sunday evening, with Kiptum behind the wheel when the vehicle lost control and rolled, claiming the lives of both occupants. A female passenger sustained injuries and was rushed to the hospital.
Just days before the accident, Kiptum’s team announced his ambitious attempt to break the two-hour mark at the Rotterdam marathon, reflecting his relentless pursuit of excellence. His meteoric rise on the marathon circuit, from winning the Valencia Marathon to setting a course record at the London Marathon, culminated in smashing the world record in Chicago.
Kiptum’s journey to stardom was marked by perseverance and determination. Starting with borrowed shoes due to financial constraints, he swiftly ascended the ranks, embodying a new generation of Kenyan athletes who chose the road over traditional track events.
His coach, Hakizimana, played a pivotal role in Kiptum’s success, having mentored him since childhood. From chasing livestock barefoot as a boy to breaking world records, Kiptum’s remarkable journey symbolised the indomitable spirit of human achievement.