Marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum, 24, and his coach Gervais Hakizimana died in a car crash in western Kenya that also left a third passenger injured, local police said on Sunday (11).
Authorities indicated that the vehicle was carrying three people and two died at the scene of the accident, while the third was taken to the hospital. “Both [falecidos] it’s Kiptum and his trainer,” said Peter Mulinge, police commander in Elegeyo Marakwet county in western Kenya.
“It was Kiptum who was driving towards Eldoret when he lost control (…) killing two occupants on the spot. A passenger was injured and was rushed to hospital,” Mulinge added.
Kiptum, who set the world record (2 hours and 35 seconds) at the Chicago Marathon last October, was preparing for the Paris Olympic Games.
Kiptum’s mark was the third time it had been set as a men’s world record in Chicago, and the first since 1999, when Moroccan Khalid Khannouchi did it.
Sebastian Coe, president of World Athletics, said he was “shocked and saddened to learn of this devastating loss.”
“On behalf of World Athletics, we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends, colleagues and Kenya,” Coe said in a statement.
“An incredible athlete leaves an incredible legacy, he will be greatly missed.”
World Athletics indicated that he had not competed again since last October, but that he would participate in the Rotterdam marathon in April, where he hoped to become the first man to surpass the two-hour mark in that competition.
Coach Hakizimana, originally from Rwanda, was a runner who trained for years in Kenya, where he met Kiptum in the town of Chepkorio.
Kiptum’s premature death recalls that of another great Kenyan marathon runner, Samuel Wanjiru, who also lost his life at the age of 24.
Wanjiru, the 2008 Olympic champion in Beijing, died in 2011 after falling from a balcony.
The previous world record for maximum distance was held by fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, with 34 seconds more than Kiptum.