India Pulse Update

World Record Holder for the Kenyan Marathon, Kelvin Kiptum, was killed in a car crash

<p>After the 24-year-old Kenyan running star Kelvin Kiptum lost his life in an automobile accident on Monday, tributes began to come in for the world record holder in marathon running.</p>
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<p>Kenya and the sports community were devastated by Kiptum’s death, which occurred only months before the Olympics in Paris. His adversary, the renowned marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge, expressed his “deep sadness” over the news.</p>
<p>Around 11 p.m. (2000 GMT) on Sunday, Kiptum, a father of two, was traveling from Kaptagat to Eldoret in the Rift Valley, the center of Kenyan distance running, when his vehicle veered off the road and struck a tree.</p>
<p>Police reported that a female passenger was hurt, but Kiptum and his Rwandan coach, Gervais Hakizimana, died instantly.</p>
<p>He lost control, swerved off the path, and went into a ditch on his left. The accident happened in Elgeyo Marakwet County, according to an official police report. “He drove in the ditch for about 60 meters before hitting a big tree,” the report said.</p>
<p>Pictures of the damaged wreckage appeared in Kenyan media, with the top and doors almost torn off, the windshield broken.</p>
<p>Kiptum, who was only ten years old when he started herding goats, had declared that he would try to break the record of becoming the first man to finish an official marathon in under two hours in April.</p>
<p>He made his marathon debut in October when he broke Kipchoge’s previous record in Chicago, clocking in at a time of 2:00:35.</p>
<p>At the time, he was just 23 and taking part in his third marathon.</p>
<p>In his two subsequent attempts, which were a repeat performance in London the following year and his debut in Valencia in 2022, Kiptum also triumphed, setting three of the seven fastest marathon times in history.</p>
<p><strong>“A lifetime to come”</strong></p>
<p>One of the all-time great marathon runners, Kipchoge, called his younger opponent a “rising star”.</p>
<p>Kipchoge described himself on X as “an athlete who had a whole life ahead of him to achieve incredible greatness.”</p>
<p>At the Olympics in Paris, Kiptum and 39-year-old Kipchoge were anticipated to square off for the first time.</p>
<p>At the family home in the Rift Valley hamlet of Chepsamo, mourners gathered and consoled his father Samson Cheruiyot and his wife Asenath Rotich as the tributes came in.</p>
<p>When Cheruiyot talked with his only son last Saturday, he said to Citizen TV that Kiptum had stated, “If he was to run, he could do it in one hour 59/58 minutes since his body was feeling fine.”</p>
<p>Kiptum was hailed as “one of the world’s finest athletes who broke barriers to secure a marathon record” by Kenyan President William Ruto.</p>
<p>He commented on X, “An extraordinary sportsman has left an extraordinary mark in the globe.”</p>
<p>Kiptum’s Valencia debut set a record, according to World Athletics, which also lamented the passing of “one of the most exciting new prospects to emerge in road running in recent years.”</p>
<p>“An amazing athlete leaving an amazing legacy, we will miss him terribly,” the organization’s president, Sebastian Coe, said after visiting Chicago last week to formally confirm Kiptum’s historic moment.</p>
<p>Three sobbing emojis and a Kenyan flag were Faith Kipyegon’s silent homage on X, the 1,500-meter world record holder from Kenya. David Rudisha, the two-time Olympic 800-meter champion, called Kiptum’s passing a “huge loss.”</p>
<p>Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, said on X, “We had been looking forward to welcoming him into the Olympic community at the Olympic Games Paris 2024 and seeing what the fastest marathon runner in the world could achieve.”</p>
<p><strong>modest beginnings</strong></p>
<p>Kiptum was only a teenager ten years ago when he started herding goats and sheep and then joined Hakizimana and other runners in training in the fabled high-altitude Eldoret area.</p>
<p>In Europe by 2019, Kiptum completed two half-marathons in a two-week period. He started training with Hakizimana, who remained in Kenya at the time of the Covid-19 outbreak.</p>
<p>The latest in a string of disasters to befall Kenya’s hopes for the Olympics is Kiptum’s death.</p>
<p>Great Kenyan marathon runner Samuel Wanjiru died away at the same age in an unexplained house accident in 2011 after his victory in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.</p>
<p>Agnes Tirop, a renowned distance runner, was discovered fatally murdered at the age of 25 at her Iten, near Eldoret, home in 2021.</p>
<p>In November of last year, her husband Ibrahim Rotich went on trial for her murder.</p>

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