Nairobi — Kenya will provide a heroic sendoff to world marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum who passed away in a tragic road crash on Sunday night.
Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba described the 24-year-old as a national hero who more than deserves to be honoured in death as he was in life.
“Kelvin Kiptum is a national hero by any standard…by any stretch of imagination. We will honour him in death as we honoured him in life. We will be travelling in Kaptagat in the next couple of hours to view Kelvin’s remains and to consult with the family,” Namwamba said.
Kiptum was driving in his Toyota Premio along Eldoret-Kaptagat road, along with his coach Gervais Hakizimana and a female passenger, Sharon Chepkurui, when he lost control of the vehicle, which veered into a ditch before hitting a tree.
Kiptum and Hakizimana died on the spot whereas Chepkurui incurred serious injuries and was rushed to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret.
The CS expressed his sympathies for Kiptum’s young family, which includes a wife and two children.
“We cannot even begin to imagine the scale of pain for this young family as a result of this loss. We received this news last night, just after 11 pm, and we have stayed up the whole night pretty much keeping track of developments in Eldoret and Kaptagat and in Iten and it has been the most distressful night for all of us,” he said.
Kiptum shot to the apex of the road racing world when he clocked a world record of 2:00:35 at the Chicago Marathon in October last year.
This amazing feat was always a case of when and not if, considering his trailblazing start to his marathon career at the Valencia Marathon in December 2022.
Kiptum made history by clocking the fastest ever time by a marathon debutant when he time 2:01:53 on his way to victory.
He proved that his win in Spain was not a fluke when he timed 2:01:25 to win the London Marathon in April — in what was then the second fastest time in the men’s marathon.
Kiptum, whose next race was the Rotterdam Marathon in April, was due to be one of the star attractions at the summer Olympics in Paris, France after he was named in Team Kenya men’s marathon squad for the games.
Reflecting on what could have been, Namwamba confessed he is heartbroken by the turn of events.
“I have kept track of Kelvin…I have been in touch with him. We knew he was going to take a crack at being the first athlete to run a marathon under two hours. We were also very excited by the prospect of Kelvin taking his bow at the summer Olympics in Paris this year,” the CS said.
Kiptum’s demise comes less than a week after his marathon world record was ratified by World Athletics.