Kelvin Kiptum, who shattered the world marathon record in Chicago last year, died in a car accident in Kenya on Sunday, according to international track federation World Athletics. He was 24 years old.
Kiptum’s coach Gervais Hakizimana also died in the accident on the Eldoret-Kaptagat road in western Kenya, where Kiptum was from.
Kenyan runner Milcah Chemos told the Associated Press said she was among a group of athletes who went to the hospital in Eldoret after learning about the crash. Kiptum’s family members were also with them to identify his body, Chemos told the AP.
At 23 years old, Kiptum became the first man to run under 2:01 in a record-eligible marathon. He finished the Chicago Marathon in October at 2:00:35, besting the mark held by Eliud Kipchoge, who ran 2:01:09 in Berlin in 2022.
World Athletics ratified Kiptum’s record last week.
Former Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga shared the news of Kiptum’s death on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“Devastating news as we mourn the loss of a remarkable individual, Kelvin Kiptum, World Record holder and Kenyan athletics icon,” Odinga wrote Sunday. “Together with his coach, they tragically passed on in an accident tonight.
“My deepest condolences to his loved ones, friends, and the entire athletics fraternity. Our nation grieves the profound loss of a true hero.”
Devastating news as we mourn the loss of a remarkable individual, Kelvin Kiptum, World Record holder and Kenyan athletics icon. Together with his coach, they tragically passed on in an accident tonight. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/1Dmgyyhsk4
— Raila Odinga (@RailaOdinga) February 11, 2024
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said in a statement: “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,” Coe said. “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.”