World-Record-Holding Athlete Killed at 24 Years Old

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Kelvin Kiptum, the current marathon world record holder, and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana, tragically died in a single-car accident in Kenya. 

The crash happened around 11 p.m. on February 11, 2024, on a stretch of road between Eldoret and Kaptagat in western Kenya, known for its training appeal to long-distance runners due to its high altitude. Their vehicle veered off the road and collided with a tree. Kiptum was found dead under the car, while the coach was found nearby, still breathing, but died soon after.

In addition to Kiptum and Hakizimana, a third passenger, a woman, was also in the car and sustained serious injuries. She was taken to the same hospital where Kiptum and Hakizimana were declared dead.

At just 24 years old, Kiptum had already distinguished himself in the sport of long-distance running. Last year, he established a new marathon world record at the Chicago Marathon, finishing in an unprecedented 2 hours, 0 minutes, and 35 seconds. 

Kiptum became the first to finish a marathon in less than two hours and one minute in an officially sanctioned event. His performance exceeded the prior record of Eliud Kipchoge, another esteemed Kenyan runner, setting a new benchmark in marathon history.

Kiptum’s death represents a significant loss to his close circle of family and friends and the global athletics community. 

His rise to prominence in the marathon world was swift, highlighted by his record-breaking debut at the 2022 Valencia Marathon, the fastest ever for a newcomer to the distance. His victories in subsequent marathons in London and Chicago solidified his status as a leading figure in long-distance running.

The loss has deeply affected the Kenyan track federation, with its president, Jackson Tuwei, expressing sadness over his passing as well as the passing of his coach, Gervais Hakizimana. Tuwei noted their significant potential and contributions to the sport, announcing that officials had been sent to the crash site to aid in the investigation.

Kiptum was set to participate in the April Rotterdam Marathon, his first competition since setting a new world record. 

The impact of his death has been keenly felt, with David Rudisha, Kenya’s two-time Olympic champion in the 800 meters, expressing dismay and deep sorrow.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe also offered condolences, recognizing Kiptum’s extraordinary achievements and the profound impact of his and Hakizimana’s passing on the sports world. Coe’s statement, shared on X (formerly known as Twitter), emphasized the indelible legacy left by Kiptum.

Beyond his athletic prowess, Kiptum was a family man, cherished by his wife, two children, father, uncle, and extended family, who had supported his career from its inception.

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