World record holder, Olympic marathon favorite… who was Kelvin Kiptum, who died in an accident in Kenya?

by time news

2024-02-12 11:02:19

It is around 11 p.m. this Sunday, February 11 (9 p.m. in France) in Kaptagat, in the Rift Valley in Kenya. Kelvin Kiptum is behind the wheel and returns to his training camp with his coach, Rwandan Gervais Hakizimana, and a woman sitting in the back of the car, Sharon Kosgey. Suddenly, the vehicle swerves. Kelvin Kiptum lost control for a reason that an investigation must determine. The car leaves the road, begins a mad dash for around sixty meters before hitting a huge tree head-on. The shock is terrible. Images broadcast by Kenyan media show the car, the windshield crushed and the roof dislocated by the impact.

“This is an accident where there is no other car involved. Kelvin Kiptum was driving his car, accompanied by two passengers. Kiptum and Hakizimana died instantly. The third person was transferred to hospital,” said Elgeyo Marakwet district police chief at the scene of the accident. Trainer Gervais Hakizimana, long based in Lyon, was known by almost all race organizers in France. Between 2008 and 2016, to earn a few euros in bonuses, he took the start of 123 events in the six corners of France.

The car in which the marathon world record holder lost his life. Reuters

Married and father of two children, Kelvin Kiptum (1.78 m, 59 kg) was born at the twilight of the last millennium, in December 1999. He was only 24 years old. He was the fastest man on the planet and of all time in a marathon. The native of Keiyo district was the world record holder for the distance and his feat was less than six months old.

On October 8, 2023, in Chicago, the Kenyan ran the 42.195 km distance in 2h00′35″’ at the incredible speed of 21.10 km/h. Even on a bicycle, it was not easy for ordinary mortals to follow him for so long. Kiptum became the first man to go below 2h01′ over the most legendary of distances by beating by more than 30 seconds the previous world record established a year earlier in Berlin by his compatriot, Eliud Kipchoge in 2h01′09′ ‘.

Quickly, doubts accompanied this extraordinary performance. “Either this is the feat of the century, or it’s a phenomenal scam!” », slips less than an hour after his arrival Jean-Claude Vollmer, the trainer of the French record holder Morhad Amdouni (2h05′22) in the columns of West France. “Athletics is a sport affected by doping. Credibility is tainted by business. There are around fifty Kenyans suspended at the moment, and you add a guy who beats everyone? It’s too impressive…” adds Yohan Durand, French reference for the distance with a personal best of 2h09′21′’.

To their credit, it must be said that in October 2023, Kelvin Kiptum shows up out of nowhere. By the time he set off in Chicago, the former goat herder had only run two marathons. Before that, it was in France that he won his first races, notably the Lion half-marathon between Belfort and Montbéliard in 2019 (59′53′’) and the Route du Louvre half-marathon in 2021 in Lens. He discovered the distance in December 2022 in Valencia in Spain and is already setting the times crazy: 2:01:53, the third best world performance of all time at that time.

He sometimes ran 300 km a week

He did it again in April of the following year in London where he broke Kipchoge’s record: 2h01′25″. He’s only 3 seconds in, barely two strides. He shattered this record six months later by achieving another feat: running the second part of the race faster (59′47′’ the first half) than the first (1h00′48′’). It’s called the “negative split” and few people succeed. At the same time, he said he wanted to be the first human being to go below the two-hour mark. He envisioned this feat when he returned to the distance in April in the Netherlands.

To silence the rumors of cheating which accompanied his foal, Gervais Hakizimana, who accompanied him to the other world, praised his hard work. “Doping is everywhere in Kenya,” he lamented. But it is mainly the clumsy ones who are caught, victims of a lack of education and information. Kelvin runs more than 250 km per week, sometimes three hundred. During the preparation for London, we spent three weeks traveling more than 300 km. It has a very large volume. At this rate, he risks injury and breakage. I suggested he lower the intensity, but he doesn’t want to. He talks to me about the world record all the time. We live together. He rents me a room. It’s very close to his house but it’s better that he doesn’t come home, he has to concentrate, there’s family, children… He has to close off. He just runs, eats, sleeps. »

In comparison, Eliud Kipchoge has rarely exceeded 220 km per week.

Kelvin Kiptum, April 23, 2023 in London. Icon Sports

Since the announcement of the death, tributes have multiplied. Kenyan President William Ruto salutes the memory of “an extraordinary sportsman, who left an extraordinary mark in sport. Kiptum was our future” in a message posted on “We will miss him very much.”

This is not the first time that Kenyan athletics has been affected by tragedy. In 2011 and also at the age of 24, Samuel Wanjiru died, almost three years after his Olympic title in 2008 in Beijing. The police concluded it was murder, saying the athlete had fallen from a balcony and hit the head with a “blunt object”.

Kelvin Kiptum was the big favorite for the marathon at the next Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

#World #record #holder #Olympic #marathon #favorite #Kelvin #Kiptum #died #accident #Kenya

You may also like

Leave a Comment