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Kelvin Kiptum: A Tribute to an Athletic Phenomenon

Kelvin Kiptum: A Tribute to an Athletic Phenomenon

Kelvin Kiptum - A tribute - Afrocritik

As we remember Kelvin Kiptum, we not only mourn his passing, but also celebrate his life and legacy. We draw inspiration from his example and strive to emulate his spirit of perseverance, compassion, and generosity.

By Tuka Letura

The world of athletics is mourning the loss of one of its brightest stars, Kelvin Kiptum, who died in a car crash on Sunday night in Kenya, along with his coach Gervais Hakizimana. Kiptum, 24, was the current marathon world record holder, clocking 2:00:35 at the Chicago Marathon in October 2023, breaking the previous record set by his compatriot and mentor, Eliud Kipchoge.

Kiptum’s climb to success was quick, considering that he only ran in his first full marathon in 2022. He made an instant impact by running the fourth-fastest time in history (2:01:53), to win the Valencia Marathon. He followed that up with a stunning performance at the London Marathon in April 2023, where he set a course record of 2:01:25, defeating a star-studded line-up that featured the legendary Mo Farah. 

He further achieved the ultimate feat by becoming the first man to run the marathon in under 2 hours and 1 minute in an official race, smashing Kipchoge’s record by 34 seconds in Chicago. He did so with his trademark tactic of running with the pack for the first 30 kilometres, before surging ahead and leaving his rivals behind. However, Kiptum’s international debut came in 2019 at the Lisbon Half Marathon in Portugal, where he ran a personal best of 59:54, and finished fifth. He participated in more races across Eastern and Western Europe before the year ran out. 

Kelvin Kiptum under 2 hours 1 minute - Afrocritik

                Kelvin Kiptum’s record time in a race | Getty Images 

His personal journey with coach Gervais began in 2020. Having trained at youth level with the Rwandan 3000 meters steeplechase record holder, he returned by competing in half-marathons, first, in the Spanish Valencia Half Marathon, where he finished sixth with a time of 58:42, surpassing his previous record in a half-marathon. He also participated in the 2021 half-marathon in Lens, France, finishing first with a time of 59:35. Subsequently, he ran placing eighth in another Valencia Half Marathon, with a time of 59:02. 

Kiptum’s achievements were all the more remarkable considering his humble background and the challenges he faced in his early life. He was born and raised in a poor family in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya, where he walked for miles to school and helped his parents with farming. He did not have access to proper training facilities or equipment and often ran in borrowed shoes.

His untimely death was announced on Sunday, February 12, by Kenya’s former prime leader, Raila Odinga. Kiptum’s untimely passing sent shockwaves through the international athletic community. Tributes poured in from fellow runners, fans, and dignitaries alike, all mourning the loss of a true legend. But amidst the grief, there was also a profound sense of gratitude for the indelible mark Kiptum had left on the world.

Kelvin Kiptum - A tribute - Afrocritik

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Eliud Kipchoge posted a tribute on his X (formerly Twitter) account. “I am deeply saddened by the tragic passing of the marathon world record holder and rising star Kelvin Kiptum”, Kipchoge shared, “An athlete who had a whole life ahead of him to achieve incredible greatness. May I offer my deepest condolences to his young family.” 

Four-time Olympic gold medallist, Sir Mo Farah, posted on Instagram saying: “I’m so sad to hear the passing of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana. Kelvin was an amazingly talented athlete and had already achieved so much. He truly had a special talent and I have no doubt he would have gone on to have had an incredible career. I send all my sympathies and condolences to his and Gervais’s family and friends at this tragic time.” 

Kiptum’s next scheduled race was the Rotterdam Marathon in April, when he aimed to break the record by running a marathon in sub two hours. 

As we remember Kelvin Kiptum, we not only mourn his passing but also celebrate his life and legacy. We draw inspiration from his example and strive to emulate his spirit of perseverance, compassion, and generosity. Though he may be gone, his memory will live on in the hearts and minds of all who were touched.

Tuka Letura is an experienced sports writer with over five years of experience in the craft. He uses data and statistics to provide analysis and commentary. From regional to worldwide competitions, he has covered a wide range of sports-related events and topics. He is devoted to sharing his enthusiasm for sports with his audience and engaging them with interesting anecdotes and viewpoints.

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