Monday, March 4, 2024

World Marathon record holder, Kenya’s Kelvin Kiptum, dead aged 24

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Marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum of Kenya has died aged 24.

Kiptum, along with his coach, Rwanda’s Gervais Hakizimana, died in a traffic accident on Monday (AEDT), according to multiple reports.

The crash happened on a road between the towns of Eldoret and Kaptagat in western Kenya, a noted high-altitude training centre for long-distance athletes.

Kiptum set the world record of 2 hours and 35 seconds at the Chicago Marathon in October 2023.

That record was only ratified by World Athletics on February 7, just five days before his death.

Kelvin Kiptum has run three marathons in his career, winning all of them.(Getty Images: Michael Reaves)

He was also named one of World Athletics’s six athletes of 2023 in December.

Kenya’s Sports Minister Ababu Namwamba said on X, “Devastatingly sickening!! Kenya has lost a special gem. Lost for words.”

Former prime minister Raila Odinga described Kiptum as a “Kenyan athletics icon” in a statement on X.

“Devastating news as we mourn the loss of a remarkable individual,” he wrote.

“My deepest condolences to his loved ones, friends, and the entire athletics fraternity.

“Our nation grieves the profound loss of a true hero.”

Kiptum, who only made his marathon debut just over a year ago, took to the distance with aplomb.

In his all-too-brief career he ran three of the fastest seven marathons in history, setting up a potential mouth-watering battle at the Paris Games between himself and two-time defending Olympic marathon champion, Eliud Kipchoge.

Kiptum won his debut marathon in Valencia in December 2022, running a negative split to record the fourth fastest time in history.

Kelvin Kiptum celebrates

Kelvin Kiptum set the world marathon record at Chicago in 2023.(Getty Images: Michael Reaves)

He went on to win two of marathon’s five majors in 2023, in London and Chicago.

Kiptum broke Kipchoge’s record by 34 seconds in Chicago, becoming the the first athlete to break 2:01 in a record-eligible marathon.

Kipchoge, 39, is still the fastest to cover the marathon distance, but his heavily supported sub-two hour time from 2019 is not considered a world record.

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