World marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum and his coach Gervais Hakizimana died in a car crash in western Kenya.
Police say Kiptum lost control of the vehicle he was driving and veered off the road into a ditch. The car traveled for about 60 meters before crashing into a large tree.
Kiptum and Gervais Hakizimana died at the scene. Another passenger in the car, 24-year-old Sharon Chepkurui Kosgei Keiyo, survived. She suffered serious injuries and is currently in a local hospital.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement.
“On behalf of all World Athletics, we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends, teammates, and the Kenyan nation.”
Coe said only last week he had been in Chicago to officially ratify Kiptum’s historic time.
“An incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy, we will miss him dearly.”
Senior Kenyan politicians, government officials, and fellow athletes also paid tribute.
“Devastating news as we mourn the loss of a remarkable individual, Kelvin Kiptum, World Record holder and Kenyan athletics icon,” former Kenya prime minister, Raila Odinga said on social media platform X.
“With the Olympics just days away, we mourn the untimely departure of a promising talent,” President of Kenya’s National Olympic Committee Paul Tergat said in a statement on X.
The 24-year-old set the world record at the Chicago Marathon in October with a time of 2:00:35.
Kiptum clocked three of the seven fastest marathon times in history. He hoped to become the first man to run the marathon in under two hours in race conditions at Rotterdam in April and potentially at the Olympics in Paris in July.
He won his other two efforts, his debut in Valencia in 2022 and a follow-up in London the following year.
(With input from agencies)