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2023 TCS London Marathon

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The world of elite runners is mourning today as one of its ascending stars has died. Kelvin Kiptum,24, set the world record in the marathon in Chicago last year. The landmark achievement was officially ratified last week.

Kiptum and his Rwandan coach Gervais Hakizimana were killed in a single-car crash at around 11 p.m. on Sunday, authorities in Kenya said. Kiptum was born and raised near Kapsabet in western Kenya, an area that has created world and Olympic champions in long-distance running and drawn athletes from outside the area to train at high altitudes. The accident happened on the Eldorat-Kaptagat Road.

A 24-year-old passenger survived the crash and has been hospitalized.

Kenya’s former president, Raila Odinga, was the first to announce the news on X.

“My deepest condolences to his loved ones, friends, and the entire athletics fraternity. Our nation grieves the profound loss of a true hero,” he wrote.

Kiptum set the world record mark at the Chicago Marathon in October with a time of 2:00:35. He surpassed the record held by his countryman Eliud Kipchoge, with whom he was expected to compete for the marathon title at the Paris Olympics.

“We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana,” Sebastian Coe, the president of World Athletics said in a statement.

“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.”

Kiptum becomes one of several promising Kenyan athletes to die in a car crash.

Runner David Lelei, who won a silver medal at the All-Africa Games died after an accident in 2010.  Francis Kiplagat, also a marathoner, died in 2018. Hurdler Nicholas Bett, a world champion in the 400M hurdles in 2015, was killed in 2018.

Paul Tergat, who set the then-world record at the Berlin Marathon in 2003 and won the New York Marathon in 2005, survived a crash in 2010.

In a statement after hearing of Kiptum’s death, current Kenyan president William Ruto said, “He was only 24. Kiptum was our future.”