Kelvin Kiptum, the current world record-holder in the marathon, died in a car accident in his native Kenya on Sunday, the world athletics federation confirmed. He was 24 years old.
Kiptum’s coach, Gervais Hakizimana, also reportedly died in the crash. A third person was rushed to a hospital, per The Standard newspaper in Kenya:
“This was a self-involved accident where one Kelvin Kiptum, the world marathon record holder, was driving his vehicle with two passengers. Kiptum and Hakizimana died on the spot and the third person was rushed to Racecourse Hospital in Eldoret.”
The tragedy struck only 13 months after Kiptum burst onto the marathon scene with a 2:01:53 win in his debut at the 2022 Valencia Marathon. He later improved his best to a course-record 2:01:25 at the 2024 London Marathon and then took the world record with 2:00:35 at the 2024 Chicago Marathon.
Kiptum’s promise can be succinctly summed up by the fact that he ran three major marathons, and all three of his times are among the seven fastest of all time. He is the only man to break the 2:02 mark three times.
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… pic.twitter.com/dDBKgjXNKL
— Seb Coe (@sebcoe) February 11, 2024
Kiptum was reportedly planning to attempt to become the first man to break the two-hour mark at the Rotterdam Marathon in April, with his first Olympics coming up three months later. He was clearly going to be among the top contenders in Paris.
Per the federation, Kiptum was born and raised in the Chepsamo village in Chepkorio and grew up working on his family‘s cattle farm. He began his competitive running career around the age of 13, placing 10th at the Eldoret Half Marathon and winning the race in 2018, at the age of 18.
Kiptum is survived by a wife and two children.