Kelvin Kiptum, the 2023 winner of the London Marathon and the world marathon record holder, was killed in a car accident on Sunday while driving in Kaptagat, Kenya. He was 24.
According to The Guardian, authorities said that Kiptum lost control of his vehicle at approximately 11 p.m. local time, colliding with a tree before ultimately ending up in a ditch. Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana, were both declared dead on-site. A third person, who had been a passenger in Kiptum’s vehicle, was rushed to Racecourse Hospital in Eldoret.
Kiptum’s death only comes one week after his world record of 2 hours, 0 minutes, and 35 seconds — set at Chicago last October — had been ratified by World Athletics. Recently, Kiptum had announced his plans to try and become the first person in history to complete a marathon in less than two hours at Rotterdam in April.
“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.
“It was only earlier this week in Chicago, the place where Kelvin set his extraordinary marathon world record, that I was able to officially ratify his historic time. An incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy, we will miss him dearly,” Coe said.
Only a few years after making his international debut as a teenager in 2019, Kiptum made his marathon debut in December 2022, and quickly ascended to stardom with a win at Valencia. He would win the London Marathon in a course record only a few months later, and then — in just his third marathon — set the world record at Chicago, surpassing the previous mark set by Eliud Kipchoge by 34 seconds.
Kiptum had been named the 2023 World Athlete of the Year for men’s out-of-stadia events. His death was met with great commiseration not only in World Athletics, but also in Kenya where he had quickly become a civic hero.
“Devastating news as we mourn the loss of a remarkable individual, Kelvin Kiptum, world record holder and Kenyan athletics icon. Together with his coach, they tragically passed on in an accident tonight,” a statement by Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga read. “Our nation grieves the profound loss of a true hero.”
This story was originally published by CBS Sports on Feb. 11, 2024.