Kenyan Kelvin Kiptom: Marathon world record holder dies in a traffic accident
- Written by Celestine Carone
- BBC Sport Africa, Nairobi
Kenyan Kelvin Kiptom, the world record holder for the men’s marathon, died at the age of 24 in a traffic accident in his homeland.
He and his Rwandan coach, Jervis Hakizimana, were killed in a car on a road in western Kenya on Sunday.
Kiptum has had a breakthrough in 2023 as a rival to compatriot Eliud Kipchoge – one of the greatest marathon runners.
In Chicago last October, Kiptum surpassed Kipchoge’s achievement, covering a distance of 26.1 miles (42 kilometers) in two hours and 35 seconds.
Athletes have been selected for Kenya’s provisional marathon team for the Paris Olympics later this year.
The accident occurred at around 23:00 local time (20:00 GMT) on Sunday, the French news agency reported, quoting the police.
In more details about the accident, the police said that Kiptom was the driver, and that the car “lost control and overturned, killing the two instantly.”
An AFP spokesman added that the third passenger – a woman – was injured and “was taken to hospital.”
And just last week, his team announced that it would attempt to cover the distance in under two hours at the Rotterdam Marathon – a feat that has never been achieved in open competition.
The father-of-two’s rise to fame has been rapid, as he only ran his first full marathon in 2022.
He competed in his first major competition four years ago wearing borrowed shoes because he wasn’t able to afford a pair of his own.
He was among a new crop of Kenyan athletes who began their careers on the road, breaking from the previous tradition of athletes starting out on the track before switching to longer distances.
Kiptom told the BBC last year that his unusual choice was due to a lack of resources.
He explained: “I did not have the money to travel to follow the sessions.”
His coach, Hakizimana, 36, was a retired Rwandan runner. Last year, he spent months helping Kiptom break the world record.
Their relationship as coach and athlete began in 2018, but the pair first met when the world record holder was much younger.
“I knew him when he was a little boy, herding cattle barefoot,” Hakizimana recalled last year. “It was 2009, I was training near his father’s farm, and he was kicking me in the heel and I was chasing him away.
“And now I am grateful to him for his accomplishment.”