Kelvin Kiptum, the marathon world record-holder and a top contender for the gold medal at the 2024 Olympics, died in a car crash Sunday night in Kenya.
Kiptum, 24, was driving the vehicle when he lost control, veered into a ditch and crashed into a large tree, police said.
Gervais Hakizimana, Kiptum’s coach, was a passenger in the vehicle and also died in the crash. Another passenger, 24-year-old Sharon Chepkurui Kosgei Keiyo, was rushed to a local hospital with serious injuries, according to Reuters.
Kiptum was set to be a star for years in global distance running. He won all three major marathons he participated in, including the 2023 Chicago Marathon where he set the world record of 2:00.35.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana,” World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “On behalf of all World Athletics, we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends, teammates and the Kenyan nation.”
Kiptum was driving near the town of Kaptagat, in the Rift Valley region where many great Kenyan distance runners train. He was also born and raised in the area.
The crash stunned Kenyan citizens and leaders, who were preparing for an all-Kenyan battle for gold at Paris 2024 between the up-and-coming Kiptum and previous world record-holder Eliud Kipchoge.
Kipchoge described Kiptum as “An athlete who had a whole life ahead of him to achieve incredible greatness.”
In Kiptum’s three world marathons, he ran three of the seven fastest times in history. He won his debut race at the Valencia marathon in 2022, then won in London and Chicago the following year. He is the only man to ever run under 2 hours, 1 minute in an official marathon.
Kiptum’s next race was to be the 2024 Rotterdam Marathon in April, where he was aiming to be the first man to run a competitive marathon in under two hours.
“He was only 24,” Kenyan President William Ruto said in a statement. “Kiptum was our future.”
With News Wire Services