(CNN) — Kenyan police confirmed that current marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum and his coach Gervais Hakizmana were killed outside the Rift Valley town of Eldoret on Sunday night. Killed in a traffic accident.
The 24-year-old Kenyan athlete, who was driving a Toyota Premio, died at the scene of the accident along with his coach, Elgoyo Marakwet County Police Commander Peter Mullinge told CNN.
Mullinger added that a third passenger survived with serious injuries.
“He lost control and ran off the road, into a ditch 60 meters away and hit a large tree,” Mullinger said. The accident occurred around 11pm local time.
Kiptum’s marathon world record of 2:00:35 set at the Chicago Marathon last October has just been approved by World Athletics. A year before breaking the record, Kiptum switched from sprinting to marathon running.
He improved his personal best by 50 seconds and broke the record of 2 hours, 01 minutes and 9 seconds set by compatriot Eliud Kipchoge, considered the best marathon runner of all time. Kiptum is considered Kipchoge’s successor and a possible contender to run the two-hour marathon.
Hakizmana, 36, is a Rwandan professional athlete who has participated in various races from 5,000 meters to half marathons.
People from across the track and distance running community have paid their respects and mourned the loss of an athlete in his prime.
World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said Kiptum was “an incredible athlete with an incredible legacy. He will be greatly missed.”
“We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the tragic loss of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach Gervais Hakizmana,” Coe said. “On behalf of all World Athletics athletes, we send our condolences to Their families, friends, teammates and the nation of Kenya extend our deepest condolences.”
Coe added, “Just earlier this week in Chicago, where Kelvin set his extraordinary marathon world record, I was able to officially recognize his historic record.”
“On behalf of all our Golazo (management group) colleagues and their friends, we send our deepest condolences to their family, friends and the entire sports family,” Verbeek said in a statement.
After the news of his death was announced, messages of condolence poured in on Kiptum’s official Instagram account.
london marathon organizer they shared Messages on X. “We are shocked and deeply saddened. The thoughts of everyone at the TCS London Marathon are with the families and friends of Kelvin and Gervais.”
Carey Pinkowski, executive director of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, said Kiptum’s loss will be felt in Chicago. Kipton made history in the 2023 marathon.
“Kelvin is a once-in-a-lifetime athlete,” Pinkovsky said. “While he will be celebrated for his record-breaking performance, I will remember him as an incredible talent and an even greater person.”
“We were fortunate to be able to witness his greatness on the streets of Chicago,” he added. “The marathon movement has suffered a tragic loss.”
Kenyan Olympians also expressed regret. Two-time Olympic gold medalist David Rudisha, who survived the 2022 plane crash, called Kiptum’s death a “huge loss.” Rudisha wrote on X: “My condolences to family, friends, sporting fraternity and Kenya as a whole.”
Five-time Olympian and middle-distance runner Bernard Lagat said: “I was shocked to learn today of the tragic accident that killed Kevin Kiptum and his coach. “They went too fast. RIP champ.”
Former world marathon champion Robert de Castella of Australia said: “A superstar in the making has passed away. It highlights how precious life is and how fragile we all are.”
The former prime minister of Kenya was also among the mourners. Raila Odinga called the death “devastating news” on his X account and praised Kiptum as an icon of Kenyan athletics. “Our nation mourns the loss of a true hero.”
Kenyan Sports Minister Ababu Nanwamba also expressed his condolences in X: “Kenya has lost a special gem. Speechless.”