Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Kelvin Kiptum: Sir Mo Farah and Eliud Kipchoge lead tributes to marathon world record holder

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The sporting world has been stunned by the death of marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum, who had been destined to “achieve incredible greatness” in athletics like no other before him.

Kiptum and his coach Gervais Hakizimana were killed in a car crash on Sunday in his native Kenya, with a third person taken to hospital, cutting short what had already been a record-breaking career.

The 24-year-old set the record for the fastest debut marathon in history when he won the 2022 Valencia Marathon in two hours, one minute and 53 seconds, then smashed the London Marathon record last April by winning in a time of two hours, one minute and 25 seconds.

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Athletic Kenya president Jackson Tuwei and Kenyan minister of sports Ababu Namwamba paid their respects to World Marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum after his untimely death.

Kiptum then took 34 seconds off the world record held by Eliud Kipchoge when he stormed to victory at the Chicago Marathon last October, completing the race in two hours and 34 seconds.

“I am deeply saddened by the tragic passing of the marathon world record holder and rising star Kelvin Kiptum,” Kipchoge said in a post on social media. “An athlete who had a whole life ahead of him to achieve incredible greatness. May I offer my deepest condolences to his young family.”

Kiptum was next due to race at the Rotterdam Marathon in April, where he was targeting to become the first person in history to run a marathon in under two hours. Kipchoge achieved a 1:59 marathon in 2019 but outside of an official race.

Four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Mo Farah said: “Kelvin was an amazingly talented athlete and had already achieved so much. He truly had a special talent and I have no doubt he would have gone on to have had an incredible career.”

Hugh Brasher, event director of the London Marathon, added: “Kelvin had the sport of marathon running in his feet and at his feet. He was a ‘once in a generation’ athlete who was set to redefine the boundaries of our sport.

“Three marathons, three wins. His was a flame that burned so bright and was tragically put out.”

FILE - Kelvin Kiptum celebrates his Chicago Marathon world record victory in Chicago's Grant Park on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023. Kiptum was killed along with his coach in a car crash in Kenya late Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024. (Eileen T. Meslar /Chicago Tribune via AP)
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Kelvin Kiptum won the Chicago Marathon in October

Kiptum was also due to make an Olympic debut this summer at the Paris Games, where he was set to face reigning Olympic champion Kipchoge for the first time in one of the most eagerly-awaited clashes in athletics history.

In a statement, IOC president Thomas Bach said: “It is with extreme sadness that I learnt of the tragic passing of world marathon record-holder Kelvin Kiptum from Kenya in a car accident.

“We had been looking forward to welcoming him into the Olympic community at the Olympic Games Paris 2024 and seeing what the fastest marathon runner in the world could achieve.”

World Athletics president Seb Coe said: “We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana.

“It was only earlier this week in Chicago, the place where Kelvin set his extraordinary marathon World Record, that I was able to officially ratify his historic time. An incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy, we will miss him dearly.”

The TCS London Marathon takes place on April 21, the week after Kiptum had been due to feature in Rotterdam. The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is held on October 13.

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