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Kenyan marathon world record-holder Kelvin Kiptum, 24, dies in car crash

Tributes have poured in for Kenyan running sensation Kelvin Kiptum after the marathon world record-holder was killed in a car crash at the age of 24.

The death of Kiptum just months before the Paris Olympics shocked Kenya and the world of athletics, with his rival, the legendary marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge saying he was “deeply saddened”.

Kiptum, a father of two, was driving from Kaptagat to Eldoret in the Rift Valley, the heartland of Kenyan distance running, around 2000 GMT on Sunday when his car careered off the road and hit a tree.

Police said Kiptum and his Rwandan coach Gervais Hakizimana were killed on the spot while a woman passenger was injured.

“He lost control and veered off-road entering into a ditch on his left side. He drove in the ditch for about 60 metres before hitting a big tree,” said an official police report from Elgeyo Marakwet County where the accident occurred.

He burst onto the marathon scene when he ran a world record in Chicago in October, slicing 34 seconds off Kipchoge’s previous record.

Kiptum also won his other two efforts, his debut in Valencia in 2022 and a follow-up in London the following year recording three of the seven fastest marathon times in history.

Humble beginnings

Kipchoge, regarded as one of the greatest marathon runners of all time, described his younger rival as a “rising star”.

“An athlete who had a whole life ahead of him to achieve incredible greatness,” Kipchoge said on X.

Kiptum and 39-year-old Kipchoge were expected to face off for the first time at the Paris Olympics.

Kenyan President William Ruto described Kiptum as “one of the world’s finest sportsmen who broke barriers to secure a marathon record”.

World Athletics said Kiptum’s Valencia debut was the fastest in history and mourned the loss of “one of the most exciting new prospects to emerge in road running in recent years”.

Ten years ago, barely a teen, Kiptum herded goats and sheep and then began following Hakizimana and other runners as they trained in the legendary high-altitude Eldoret region.

Kiptum’s death is the latest in a saga of tragedies to hit Kenya’s athletics hopefuls.

In 2011, Kenyan marathon great Samuel Wanjiru died at the same age in a mysterious accident at his home after capturing the title at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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