President William Ruto led Kenyans to mourn world marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum who passed away in a tragic road accident along Eldoret-Kaptagat Road on Sunday night.
The 24-year-old Kiptum, who had the world record he set last year at the Chicago Marathon ratified by the international track federation World Athletics just last week, was killed alongside his coach, Rwanda’s Gervais Hakizimana.
He was one of the most exciting prospects to emerge in road running in years and was a clear contender for gold in the marathon for Team Kenya at the Paris Olympics in August.
A statement released from Kaptagat Police Station in Elegyo Marakwet County under the subject ‘self-involved fatal road traffic accident’ and registered under OB number 19 /11/02/2024, confirmed the incident by saying: “The accident occurred at about 11 pm at Kaptagat Forest area along Eldoret -Ravine road. It happened that one Kelvin Kiptum – the Chicago marathon World record holder was driving his m/vehicle reg. number KDL 566F Toyota Premio carrying two passengers namely Gervais Hakizimana Rwanda male adult aged 37years-his coach and Sharon Chepkurui Kosgei Keiyo/f/adult aged 24 years from Eldoret heading towards Ravine. Upon reaching the location of the accident, he lost control and veered off-road entering into a ditch on his left side. He drove in the ditch for about 60 metres before hitting a big tree.
As a result, Kiptum and Hakizimana died on the spot whereas Sharon Chepkurui Kosgei escaped with serious injuries and was rushed to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital for treatment. The two bodies were moved to Racecourse Hospital Mortuary in Eldoret awaiting autopsy.”
In his condolences message, Ruto described Kiptum as a star, who had broken the barriers to secure a marathon record. The Head of State said: “Kelvin Kiptum was a star, arguably one of the world’s finest sportsmen, who broke barriers to secure a marathon record.“He was only 24 yet, as a hero, triumphed in Valencia, Chicago, London and other top competitions. His mental strength and discipline were unmatched. Kiptum was our future. An extraordinary sportsman has left an extraordinary mark on the globe. Our thoughts are with the family and the sporting fraternity. Rest In Peace.”
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe offered his condolences in a statement on X, formerly Twitter by saying: “We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kiptum and his coach, Hakizimana,” Coe wrote. “On behalf of all World Athletics, we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends, teammates, and the Kenyan nation.”“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.”
Kenyan Sports Minister Ababu Namwamba wrote on X: “Devastatingly sickening!! Kenya has lost a special gem. Lost for words,” while former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, said the country had lost “a true hero” and was mourning “a remarkable individual… and Kenyan athletics icon.”
David Rudisha, Kenya’s two-time Olympic champion in the 800 meters, wrote on X that Kiptum’s death was “a huge loss.” He wrote: “I am shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach Gervais Hakizimana. My condolences to the families, friends, athletic fraternity, and Kenya at large. This is a huge loss.”