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Tributes flow for 'true hero' London marathon winner Kelvin Kiptum after car crash

Tributes flow for 'true hero' London marathon winner Kelvin Kiptum after car crash

Tributes have flooded in for record-breaking marathon runner Kelvin Kiptum and his coach after they were killed in a road accident, cutting short the career of the Kenyan athlete.

The 24-year-old London Marathon winner, who set the world record at Chicago in October with a time of two hours and 35 seconds, died in Kenya’s Rift Valley on Sunday.

Local police said he was driving his Rwandan coach Gervais Hakizimana and a woman near his home village when he lost control of the vehicle, crashing into a large tree.

Kiptum and Hakizimana died at the scene but the woman, 24-year-old Sharon Chepkurui Kosgei Keiyo, survived with serious injuries.

The wreckage of the car Kiptum, his coach and a woman were travelling in (AP)
The wreckage of the car Kiptum, his coach and a woman were travelling in (AP)

The runner, who clocked three of the seven fastest marathon times in history, had been hoping to become the first man to run the marathon in under two hours in race conditions at Rotterdam in April as well as make his Olympic debut in Paris in July.

Among the tributes was one from World Athletics President Sebastian Coe who said he was “shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss” of the athlete and his coach.

He said: “On behalf of all World Athletics, we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends, team mates and the Kenyan nation.

“An incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy, we will miss him dearly.”

Kelvin Kiptum at the 2023 London Marathon (AFP via Getty Images)
Kelvin Kiptum at the 2023 London Marathon (AFP via Getty Images)

Also paying tribute was Kenyan Sports Minister Ababu Namwamba who said the country had lost “a special gem”, while former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said: “Our nation grieves the profound loss of a true hero”.

Hakizimana, a former runner himself, explained the pair first met when he was training by Kiptum’s father’s farm.

Speaking last year, he said: “I knew him when he was a little boy, herding livestock barefooted.

“It was in 2009, I was training near his father's farm, he'd come kicking at my heels and I would chase him away.”

Kiptum competed in his first major competition in 2018 running in borrowed shoes because he could not afford his own but by 2022 he made his name when he ran the then fourth fastest time on record to win the Valencia Marathon on his debut.

He also won last April's London Marathon in a course record of 2:01:25.