Kelvin Kiptum
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Kelvin Kiptum Kenya’s World marathon record holder died in a car  accident

The running world is mourning the tragic loss of Kelvin Kiptum, Kenya’s world record marathon holder, who died in a car accident on Sunday night at the young age of 24.

Kiptum was driving from Kaptagat to Eldoret in western Kenya around 11 pm when his car rolled, killing him and his Rwandan coach Gervais Hakizimana. A female passenger survived with injuries.

The accident occurred in Elgeyo Marakwet County, where Kiptum lost control of the vehicle he was driving. Both he and Hakizimana died at the scene, according to police.

Kelvin Kiptum Exploded Onto Marathon Scene

Just months ago, Kelvin Kiptum captivated the running world when he smashed the marathon world record in Chicago. He ran 2:00:05, taking 34 seconds off fellow Kenyan legend Eliud Kipchoge’s previous mark.

It was only Kiptum’s third-ever marathon. At just 23 years old, he became the youngest athlete to ever hold the marathon world record.

Kiptum also won his first two career marathons in Valencia and London. His incredible Chicago debut marked him as a rising superstar and Olympic favourite for Paris 2024.

Tributes poured in for Kiptum from across the athletics world. World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said, “Kiptum’s recent ratified record in Chicago showcased his potential for a bright future, representing the next generation of Olympic greatness.”

Humble Beginnings to Stardom

Kelvin Kiptum hailed from Chepkorio village in the Rift Valley region of Kenya, the heartland of distance running. Just 10 years ago, he was a teenager herding goats and sheep.

He began following coach Gervais Hakizimana and other runners during their high-altitude training. By 2019, Kiptum started competing internationally, running half marathons in Copenhagen and France.

After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Hakizimana stayed in Kenya to train Kiptum. Their partnership saw the young athlete evolve from obscurity into a global star who seemingly shattered records at will.

Kiptum was set to race Eliud Kipchoge for the first time at the Paris 2024 Olympics. Tragically, the running world will never see the two generational Kenyan talents compete.

Great Loss for Kenya

The premature death of Kelvin Kiptum is heartbreaking for Kenya. He represented the future of the country’s distance-running dominance.

At just 24 years old, Kiptum seemed destined to succeed Kipchoge as Kenya’s next Olympic marathon champion. Kipchoge himself said Kiptum’s Chicago run showed his “potential for a bright future.”

Kenyan President William Ruto mourned the loss of “our future” and an “extraordinary sportsman.”  David Rudisha, Kenya’s two-time Olympic 800m champion, called Kiptum’s death a “huge loss.”

Paul Tergat, President of Kenya’s National Olympic Committee, said “Kelvin’s untimely departure” came just days from the Paris Olympics where he was expected to shine.

Attempting Sub-Two-Hour Marathon

Before his tragic death, Kelvin Kiptum stated he would attempt to break the two-hour barrier for the marathon this April. It would have been a historic and monumental feat.

The mythical sub-two-hour mark represents the final frontier of human endurance. Eliud Kipchoge recorded an unofficial 1:59:40 in 2019 under specially controlled conditions.

But no one has come close to breaking two hours in an open marathon. Kiptum seemingly had the talent and potential to be the first, had he gotten the chance.

Instead, the running community is left wondering ‘what if?’ about the brilliant career Kiptum could have had. At just 24, he likely had many more records and achievements in his future.

Another Tragedy for Kenyan Athletics

Sadly, Kelvin Kiptum’s shocking death at a young age follows several other tragedies for Kenyan athletics stars.

In 2011, the 2008 Olympic marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru died at the same age after falling from a balcony. Two-time world champion Agnes Tirop was stabbed to death at 25 years old in 2021.

While the circumstances differ, Kenya has mourned the losses of far too many young talents taken too soon.

Kiptum appeared set to become Kenya’s next male marathon superstar. After smashing records in his first few races, his potential seemed limitless. His tragic passing is devastating for fans who were eager to watch his career unfold.

The people of Kenya and the entire running community worldwide now grieve the horrifying loss of Kelvin Kiptum. Though his time in the sport was short, his inspirational legacy will live on.

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