Family mourns Kenya's marathon prodigy Kelvin Kiptum

February 13, 2024 6:09 am

Kenya's Kelvin Kiptum [Source: Reuters]

Kelvin Kiptum’s devastated wife had been looking forward to watching him try to become a marathon legend as the first athlete under 2 hours. Now she is wondering how to tell their two children that their father was killed in a car accident.

Sobbing next to her in the village where they all lived, Kiptum’s father is desolate that his only child has died, and with him the hopes for a better life for the family.

Police said the athlete lost control of the vehicle he was driving and veered off the road into a ditch, travelling for about 60 metres along it before crashing into a large tree in Kenya’s Rift Valley. The 24-year-old’s coach was also killed.

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Kiptum’s rise to world marathon sensation from barefoot cattle herder was meteoric.

He ran only three marathons. In his 2022 debut in Valencia, he not only won the race but also clocked the fastest debut time ever. In 2023, after setting a new course record in London, he went on to make marathon history in Chicago, winning in 2 hours and 35 seconds to beat compatriot Eliud Kipchoge’s previous world record by more than 30 seconds.

After Rotterdam, Kiptum was hoping to make his Olympic debut in Paris this summer.

His father Samson Cheruyot, a farmer, said Kiptum was confident he would transform his family’s lives with his sudden fame, race winnings and the subsequent lucrative sponsorship deals with companies, including Nike, in the United States and Europe.

Kiptum’s wife appealed to the government to help her look after their children, aged seven and four. “He loved his kids, I don’t even know what I will tell them. He was so loving and caring, I am just asking them (the government) to help me,” she said.