Tuesday, February 27, 2024

President William Ruto mourns fallen world marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum

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President William Ruto has led the country in mourning the death of marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum who died in a road crash on Sunday night.

Returning from Eldoret in Uasin Gishu County, Kiptum lost control of his vehicle at Kaptagat area along the Eldama Ravine-Eldoret road.

The vehicle veered off the road into a ditch before being stopped by a tree about 60 metres from the main road.

Kiptum was travelling with his Rwandan coach Gervais Hakizimana, who also died.

A female passenger survived the crash and was rushed to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret.

In a statement, President Ruto said Kiptum was a star and arguably one of the best athletes in the world.

“He was only 24 years old and yet he triumphed as a hero in Valencia, Chicago, London and other top competitions. His mental strength and discipline were unparalleled. Kiptum was our future,” President Ruto said.

“An extraordinary sportsman has left an extraordinary mark on the world. Our thoughts are with the family and the sporting community. Rest in peace,” the Head of State further said.

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga has also mourned the death of the promising Kenyan athlete.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has also paid glowing tribute to the late Kiptum, saying he was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of his tragic demise.

“On behalf of World Athletics, we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends, teammates and the Kenyan nation,” Coe said

“It was only earlier this week in Chicago, 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, he will be greatly missed,” Coe further said in a statement on X.

Kenneth Kimaiyo, who was among the first responders at the scene, said he rushed to the scene the moment he heard about the crash.

When he got there, he found a man on a motorcycle helping the female passenger, who was screaming for help, before she was taken to Savanis Dispensary and later transferred to MTRH for further medication.

Kimaiyo said he found Kiptum’s body under his vehicle while Hakizimana was lying on the hill, still breathing.

“We tried to save the coach because he was still breathing but he died immediately. Kiptum was lying under the car with his seat belt ripped and he was already dead,” Kimaiyo said.

Kimaiyo added that he had known Kiptum for a long time. He said the athlete often patronised his shop in Chepkorio in Elgeyo Marakwet County.

In a statement shared on social media, Bob Verbeek of Golazo Management Group said they were shocked to learn of Kiptum’s death.

“We are deeply saddened to hear that our beloved friend and marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum has passed away in a road accident. Kiptum’s coach Gervais Hakizimana was also killed in the accident on the Eldoret-Kaptagat road in Kenya.

“On behalf of all our colleagues and his friends at Golazo, we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends and the entire athletics family,” the statement read.

Elgeyo Marakwet County Sports Committee member Purity Koima said it was sad that the world had lost a promising athlete whose star was beginning to shine.

“The other day we were celebrating his achievements and today we are mourning the loss of one of the best athletes in the world. My condolences to the family,” she said.

Athletics Kenya athlete representative Milca Chemos said she was shocked to hear of Kiptum’s death.

“This is devastating to lose such a hard-working athlete who took competition to another level. May his soul rest in peace,” Chemos said.

Last week, Kiptum’s world record of 2:00:35 was ratified by World Athletics after he lowered the previous record at the Chicago Marathon in the USA in October.

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