Kelvin Kiptum. Photo source: AlJazeera - Photo: 2024

Kenyan Superstar Runner and his Coach Die in Car Crash

Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK | 17 February 2024 (IDN) — Kelvin Kiptum, a superstar of long distance running and the first man to run the marathon in under two hours, died tragically in a late-night car crash in western Kenya.

He died along with his coach, Gervais Hakizimana , when he veered off the road into a ditch and hit a large tree, the authorities said. He and Hakizimana were killed instantly. A third person in the car, Sharon Kosgei, was injured.

Kiptum was 24 years old.

His record of world records began with his first marathon in Valencia, Spain, in 2022, with a winning time of 2:01:53. At the London Marathon in 2023, he crushed the field to win in 2:01:25, the second-fastest time in history, 16 seconds short of the world record of 2:01:09 held by Eliud Kipchoge, also of Kenya.

Finally, he broke a new world record at the Chicago Marathon, obliterating the world record with a score of 2:00:35

Kiptum was born on Dec. 2, 1999, in Chepsamo, Kenya. As a young man, he worked as a goat herder and trained as an electrician before becoming a runner.

In an interview with the BBC, coach Hakizimana recalled the little boy herding livestock barefoot. “It was in 2009, I was training near his father’s farm, he’d come kicking at my heels, and I would chase him away.”

News of Kiptum’s death brought tributes from Kenya, throughout Africa and across the world of road running. William Ruto, Kenya’s president, wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “Kiptum was our future. An extraordinary sportsman has left an extraordinary mark on the globe.”

Kiptum’s victories came at a time when nearly 300 athletes from Kenya were being punished for using banned substances, tarnishing the country’s image as a running powerhouse.

As a result, the 23-year-old record-holder—who has not been accused of doping—found himself defending not only what he had done in Chicago, but what he had not. His record time, he said, was the product of running 150 miles or more per week at altitude, not the use of banned substances.

“My secret is training,” he said. “Not any other thing.”

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe offered his condolences. “We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach,” he wrote. “An incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy, we will miss him dearly.”,

Kiptum’s survivors include his wife and two children. [IDN-InDepthNews]

Photo: Kelvin Kiptum. Source: AlJazeera

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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