Marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum and his coach were killed in a traffic accident in Kenya

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Kelvin Kiptum celebrates after winning the men's pro division of the 2023 Chicago Marathon, setting a world record marathon time of 2:00.35 at Grant Park on October 8, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.


Nairobi
CNN

Current world record holder in the marathon Kelvin Kiptum Kenyan police confirmed that his coach, Jervis Hakizimana, died in a traffic accident on Sunday evening outside the town of Eldoret in the Rift Valley.

The 24-year-old Kenyan athlete, who was driving a Toyota Premio, and his coach died at the scene, Elgeo Marquette County Police Chief Peter Mulenge told CNN.

Mulling added that a third passenger escaped with serious injuries.

“He lost control of himself, veered off the road, entered a ditch 60 meters away and collided with a large tree,” Mulling said. The accident occurred around 11 pm local time.

Kiptom's marathon world record of 2:00:35 set at the Chicago Marathon in October last year had been ratified just days before by the IAAF. He only switched to marathon running from shorter distance races a year before setting this record pace.

He improved his personal best time by 50 seconds to break the record of 2:01:09 set by fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, widely considered the greatest marathon runner of all time. Kiptum is widely believed to be Kipchoge's successor, and a potential contender to run the sub-two hour marathon.

Hakizimana, 36, was a former professional athlete from Rwanda who competed in various races from 5,000 meters to the half marathon.

Figures from all over the world in athletics and long-distance running paid tribute and expressed their regret at the loss of such an athlete at his best.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe said Kiptom was “an amazing athlete who left an amazing legacy, and we will miss him greatly.”

“We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptom and his coach Jervis Hakizimana,” Ko said. “On behalf of all world athletics, we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends, colleagues and the Kenyan nation,” he added.

“It was only earlier this week in Chicago, the place where Kelvin set his extraordinary marathon world record, that I was able to officially authenticate his historic time,” Ko added.

Bob Verbeek, Kiptum's manager, described the athlete as a “beloved friend.”

“On behalf of all our colleagues and friends at Golazo (Management Group), we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends and the entire athletics family,” Verbeek said in a statement.

Condolence messages also poured in on Kiptom's official Instagram account after news of his death.

London Marathon organizers A message On X. “We are shocked and deeply saddened. Everyone's thoughts on the TCS London Marathon with Kelvin and Gervais' family and friends.

Kiptum's loss will be felt in Chicago, where Kiptum made history in 2023, said Cary Pinkowski, executive director of racing for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

“Kelvin was a one-generation athlete at the forefront of his career,” Binkowski said. “While he will be celebrated for his record-breaking performances, I will remember him as an incredible talent and an even more amazing person.”

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“We were fortunate to witness his greatness on the streets of Chicago,” he added. “The sport of marathon running has suffered a huge loss.”

Michael Reeves/Getty Images

Kiptum is photographed at the 2023 Chicago Marathon in Grant Park on October 8, 2023.

Kenyan athletes also expressed their sadness. Double Olympic gold medalist David RudishaHe, who survived a plane crash in 2022, described Kiptom's death as a “terrible loss.” “My condolences to the families, friends, sporting fraternity and Kenya in general,” Rudisha wrote on X.

“I was shocked to hear about the tragic accident that claimed the lives of Kevin Kiptom and his coach today,” said Bernard Lagat, a middle-distance runner and five-time Olympian. “Gone too soon. RIP hero.”

“In this way, a rising star has passed away,” former world champion Australian marathon runner Robert de Castella said. It highlights how important life is, and how vulnerable we all are.

The former Prime Minister of Kenya was also among those offering condolences. Raila Odinga, at X, described the death as “devastating news” and praised Kiptom as an icon of Kenyan athletics. “Our nation mourns the terrible loss of a true hero.”

Kenyan Sports Minister Ababu Namwamba also expressed his condolences at X: “Kenya has lost a special gem. “I'm lost for words.”

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