Kelvin Kiptum, the Kenyan athlete who broke the marathon world record last year, and his coach Gervais Hakizimana, a former Rwandan runner, died in a car crash on Sunday night. The accident also injured another passenger, Sharon Kosgey, who was traveling with them. The tragic incident has shocked and saddened the running world, as they mourn the loss of two remarkable individuals.
Tragic Accident Claims the Lives of Kelvin Kiptum and Coach
The accident occurred around 11 pm (2000 GMT) on the Eldoret-Kaptagat road in western Kenya, a region known for producing some of the world’s finest distance runners. Kiptum was driving a Toyota Premio when he lost control of the vehicle, veered off the road, and collided with a tree. The impact was devastating, killing Kiptum and Hakizimana on the spot. Kosgey, who survived the crash, was rushed to a nearby hospital with serious injuries.
The police are investigating the cause of the accident, but some reports suggest that it might have been due to poor visibility, bad weather, or speeding. The road where the accident happened is notorious for its sharp bends and lack of street lights.
Kelvin Kiptum: The World Record Holder
Kelvin Kiptum was only 24 years old, but he had already achieved what many runners dream of: breaking the marathon world record. He did so on October 8, 2023, at the Chicago Marathon, where he clocked an astonishing time of 2:00:35, beating the previous record by 18 seconds. His performance was hailed as one of the greatest feats in the history of the sport and earned him the admiration and respect of his peers and fans.
Kiptum started running at a young age, inspired by his father, who was also a runner. He trained in the high-altitude town of Kaptagat, under the guidance of Hakizimana, who became his mentor and friend. Kiptum showed his talent and potential in several races, winning the London Marathon in 2023 and finishing second at the Berlin Marathon in 2022. He was widely regarded as the favorite to win the gold medal at the Paris Olympics later this year.
Coach Gervais Hakizimana and Another Athlete Also Killed
Gervais Hakizimana, who died along with Kiptum, was more than just his coach; he was a former distance runner himself and held Rwanda’s record in the 3000m steeplechase. He was 36 years old. Hakizimana first met Kiptum at a training session in the Rift Valley and worked with him ever since, helping him develop his race strategy and technique. He was also instrumental in securing sponsorship deals and invitations to major events for Kiptum.
Sharon Kosgey, who was injured in the accident, is also an athlete, who competes in the 800m and 1500m events. She is a friend of Kiptum and Hakizimana, and often trained with them. She is currently receiving treatment at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, where her condition is said to be stable.
The Running World Mourns the Loss of Kiptum and Coach
The news of Kiptum and Hakizimana’s death has sent shockwaves across the running world, as many athletes, officials, and fans expressed their grief and condolences. World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said he was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the loss of “an incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy” and his coach. Kenya’s prime minister Raila Odinga called Kiptum “a remarkable individual” and “a Kenyan athletics icon” and said he was “devastated” by the tragedy.
Many other prominent figures in the sport, such as Eliud Kipchoge, Brigid Kosgei, Mo Farah, and Paula Radcliffe, also paid tribute to Kiptum and Hakizimana on social media, praising their achievements and personalities. Thousands of fans also shared their messages of support and sympathy, saying they will miss and remember the duo.