Tributes have been paid to the world marathon record holder, Kelvin Kiptum, after his shock death, alongside his coach, in a road accident on Sunday.
The 24-year-old, who won the London Marathon in April before setting the world record in Chicago in October, was reported by police to have lost control of his vehicle while driving in Kaptagat, south-west Kenya, at 11pm local time.
His coach, Gervais Hakizimana, also died in the crash, while a third person is said to have been rushed to hospital.
Kenya’s prime minister, Raila Odinga, was among those to pay his respects, writing on X, formerly Twitter: “Devastating news as we mourn the loss of a remarkable individual, Kelvin Kiptum, world record holder and Kenyan athletics icon. Together with his coach, they tragically passed on in an accident tonight. Our nation grieves the profound loss of a true hero.”
Those sentiments were shared by Kenya’s minister for sports, Ababu Namwamba, who added on X: “Devastatingly sickening! Kenya has lost a special gem. Lost for words.”
Meanwhile the president of World Athletics, Sebastian Coe, said he was “shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kiptum and Hakizimana. “An incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy, we will miss him dearly,” he added.
Local county commander Peter Mulinge told the Nation newspaper that Kiptum had lost control of his vehicle and hit a tree before landing in a ditch.
“This was a self-involved accident where one Kelvin Kiptum, the world marathon record holder, was driving his vehicle with two passengers,” Mulinge added. “Kiptum and Hakizimana died on the spot and the third person was rushed to Racecourse hospital in Eldoret.”
Last week Kiptum’s world record of 2hr 0min 35sec, which took 34sec off Eliud Kipchoge’s old mark, was ratified by World Athletics. He had also recently announced plans to become the first athlete to run an official marathon in under two hours, in Rotterdam in April.