NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 12 – The world of athletics is reeling today as news emerges of the untimely demise of marathon world record holder, Kelvin Kiptum. In a tragic accident along the Eldoret-Kaptagat Road late Sunday night, Kiptum, along with his Rwandese coach Garvais Hakizimana, lost their lives. The accident, which occurred around 11 pm, claimed the lives of Kiptum and Hakizimana on the spot, while a third occupant of the vehicle was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries, according to Elgeyo Marakwet County Commandant Peter Mulinge.
Kiptum’s promising career, which had just begun to ascend to remarkable heights, faced a devastating halt. Only a week prior to this tragic incident, World Athletics had ratified his marathon world record, a testament to his extraordinary talent and dedication to the sport.
The 24-year-old athlete made history by becoming the first man to complete a marathon in under 2 hours and 1 minute, with a remarkable time of 2:00:35, achieved during his victory at the Chicago Marathon last October. His achievement had been recognized and ratified by World Athletics, setting a new benchmark in marathon running.
Kiptum’s aspirations extended beyond mere records; he was poised to represent Kenya at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where he would have joined forces with his predecessor and legendary marathoner, Eliud Kipchoge. His preparation for the Olympics included participation in the Rotterdam Marathon scheduled for April, viewed as a crucial step towards his Olympic goals.
In an interview, Kiptum expressed his determination and focus on his ambitions, stating, “It’s a choice made in full conscience, in agreement with my wife, to focus 100 per cent on my goals.”
Renowned for his exceptional debut at the Valencia Marathon in 2022, where he set a new record for the fastest debut time over the distance with a remarkable 2:01:53, Kiptum’s trajectory in the sport was nothing short of meteoric. His subsequent victory at the 2023 London Marathon, where he narrowly missed Kipchoge’s world record by a mere 16 seconds, further solidified his status as a rising star in the marathon circuit.
However, it was his historic achievement in Chicago in October 2023, where he finally clinched the coveted world record, that solidified his place in athletic history.
Kiptum’s sudden demise is reminiscent of past tragedies that have befallen the athletic community, notably the loss of former 400m Hurdles World Champion Nicholas Bett in a road accident in 2018. Bett’s passing serves as a stark reminder of the fragility of life and the inherent risks athletes face, even beyond the confines of the track.
As the athletics world mourns the loss of a promising talent, Kelvin Kiptum’s legacy will endure as a testament to his unparalleled skill, dedication, and the indelible mark he left on the sport of marathon running.