Kelvin Kiptum, current marathon world record holder, has died in a traffic accident outside the Rift Valley town of Eldoret. The 24-year-old Kenyan athlete and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana, both died at the scene of the accident. A third occupant in the vehicle survived with serious injuries.
Kiptum’s world marathon record of 2:00:35, set at the Chicago Marathon in October last year, was just ratified by the World Athletics Association. The previous record was set at 2:01:09, held by his compatriot Eliud Kipchoge. Kiptum was seen as Kipchoge’s successor and a contender to run the sub-two-hour marathon, his progress has inspired a wave of tributes from around the world.
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe remarked, “We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana. On behalf of all World Athletics, we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends, teammates and the Kenyan nation.” Kenya’s former prime minister, Raila Odinga, also praised Kiptum, calling him an icon of Kenyan athletics.
Messages of condolence poured in from London Marathon organizers, the executive race director of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, and various Kenyan Olympians. Kiptum’s loss has reverberated across the athletics community as an irreplaceable gap.