World marathon record holder and London Marathon winner Kelvin Kiptum and his coach have died in a car crash, Kenya’s former prime minister has said.
The 24-year-old won the London Marathon last year.
His coach was also killed in the crash, Kenyan runner Milcah Chemos said, who went to the hospital where the bodies were taken.
The crash happened on a road between two towns in western Kenya, she said, in a high-altitude region renowned as a training base for long distance runners.
Kenya’s former prime minister Raila Odinga said on X: “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.
“My deepest condolences to his loved ones, friends, and the entire athletics fraternity.
“Our nation grieves the profound loss of a true hero.”
Kiptum only knew how to win – he leaves records ringed with tragedy
Athletics has lost an extraordinary talent.
So much was achieved so stunningly quickly by Kelvin Kiptum, who only knew how to win.
The Kenyan’s first marathon – 14 months ago in Valencia – was the fastest debut run in history.
More glory would rapidly follow, winning on the streets of London in April in just his second-ever marathon.
And then a milestone that is his legacy. No man had run 26.2 miles in under two hours and one minute before.
Kiptum did more than just achieve that. Fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge’s world record was smashed by 34 seconds.
In just his third marathon, the Chicago course was completed in two hours and 35 seconds in October by Kiptum. And just days ago World Athletics president Sebastian Coe ratified that world record.
The 24-year-old’s death – along with Rwandan coach Gervais Hakizimana – is a tragedy for their families and nations.
Ababu Namwamba, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for sports, remembered “a special gem”.
And his sport, in this Olympic year, will be grieving an athlete who excelled so quickly, so young.
Kiptum died while in training to attempt another remarkable feat – eyeing the first official marathon run under two hours in Rotterdam in April.
After setting the target, Kiptum said: “I would love to be a part of the rich history of this marathon.”
That is guaranteed – leaving records tinged with tragedy.
Kiptum smashed the course record for the London Marathon last year, winning the men’s event in the second-fastest marathon in history, crossing the finish line in two hours one minute and 25 seconds.
Last year he shattered the men’s world record, winning the Chicago Marathon in two hours and 35 seconds, beating the mark of fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge.
His record was ratified by international track federation World Athletics last week.
World Athletics president Sebastian Coe tweeted: “We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana.
“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.”