What we know about the fatal accident of marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum

Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum died on Sunday evening in a car accident while he was in the company of his coach Gervais Hakizimana, who also did not survive. The 24-year-old athlete, marathon world record holder, had a very bright future.

Holder of the marathon world record since last October, Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum died this Sunday in a road accident in the west of his country. Big favorite in his discipline for the Paris Olympic Games, the 24-year-old athlete planned to be the first man to run an official marathon under the legendary two-hour mark.

A road exit of almost 60 meters

The sad news was confirmed on Sunday evening by police sources. Kelvin Kiptum was with his trainer Gervais Hakizimana (36), who did not survive either. “The accident happened around 11:00 p.m. (8:00 p.m. GMT),” said police commander of Elgeyo Marakwet county (western Kenya), Peter Mulinge.

“It was Kiptum who was driving towards Eldoret,” Mulinge added, adding that the 24-year-old man had lost control of the vehicle. “A female passenger was injured and was rushed to hospital,” he said. Former Belgian athlete Marc Corstjens, who became Kiptum’s manager, confirmed the information, specifying that the two men were “returning to training camp”.

According to a police report consulted by AFP, “Kiptum lost control (of the vehicle) and left the road”, driving for “around 60 meters before hitting a large tree”. Images broadcast by Kenyan media show his car, the windshield smashed and the roof dislocated by the impact.

A precocious talent

Kelvin Kiptum was coached by Rwandan Gervais Hakizimana, who met the talent in 2013 during his training trips to Kenya before becoming his full-time coach in 2020. At the time of their meeting, still a teenager, Kiptum was a goat herder .

Kelvin Kiptum took up running seriously in 2016. Used to running a lot, the Kenyan could accumulate more than 250 kilometers per week, sometimes even exceeding the 300 mile mark. The duo used to room together during training camps.

In Chicago last October, Kelvin Kiptum achieved a time of 2 hours and 35 seconds in the marathon, shattering the record of his compatriot Eliud Kipchoge by 34 seconds. The phenomenon was only competing in his third marathon. Revealed in 2022 in Valencia, Kelvin Kiptum was expected in Rotterdam on April 14 to beat his own record.

A shower of tributes

Athletics legend Kipchoge said he was “deeply saddened” by the accident. “He had his whole life ahead of him to achieve excellence,” wrote the double Olympic marathon champion. In October 2019, in a project by Ineos, he achieved a time of one hour 59 minutes and 40 seconds during the Vienna marathon. However, the performance had not been approved.

President of Kenya, William Ruto also paid tribute to Kiptum. “He was an extraordinary sportsman who left an extraordinary mark on sport.” For the manager, the athlete was “without doubt one of the best athletes in the world who broke barriers to set a marathon record”. “Kiptum was our future,” Ruto concluded.

President of the International Athletics Federation, Sébastian Coe also spoke. “We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach Gervais Hakizimana”, the Briton, paying tribute to “an incredible athlete”. “We will miss him very much,” he concluded.

“A few days before the Olympic Games, we mourn the premature departure of a promising talent,” declared the president of the Kenyan National Olympic Committee, himself a former marathon runner, Paul Tergat, while the double Olympic champion (2012, 2016) Kenyan 800m David Rudisha regretted “a huge loss” in messages on X.

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