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Kelvin Kiptum: Thousands mourn marathon world record holder at funeral in Kenya

On Friday in Chepkorio, Kenya, thousands gathered for the funeral of marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum, who died at the age of 24 in a car accident on Feb. 11 with his coach, Gervais Hakizimana.

Kiptum will be remembered as one of the biggest rising stars in the sport for his record-breaking two-hour and 35-second run to break the world record at the 2023 Chicago Marathon.

Kiptum’s widow, Asenath Rotich, led the mourners at the funeral for the Kenyan marathon star. According to BBC Africa, she broke down when revealing that the couple had been planning a big wedding celebration in April. He had stunned the world in his short marathon career, and figures from sports and politics came to pay tribute to a man whose life had promised so much.

Kenyan president William Ruto was in attendance, as well as World Athletics president Sebastian Coe, who believed Kiptum would have become the first person to run a competitive marathon in under two hours. “It is a frustration to all of us that we won’t witness what I truly know he was capable of,” Coe told BBC Africa. “For sure he would have broken it. It would have been (Roger) Bannister and Edmund Hillary, both of them, wrapped into one.”

Kiptum was looking to better his world record time at the 2024 Rotterdam Marathon in April.

Also in attendance were notable Kenyan athletes Faith Kipyegon, former world record holder Paul Tergat, and 2022 London Marathon champion Amos Kipruto, who was one of Kiptum’s pallbearers at the service. Eliud Kipchoge did not attend as he continues to prepare for the Tokyo Marathon on March 3.

“Since he arrived… he has rewritten history,” said Tergat. “He has a legacy that we’ve never seen in this world. We are here to celebrate what he has achieved in a very short time.”

Before Kiptum became one of the world’s biggest marathon stars, he had worked as a livestock herder and trained as an electrician in Chepkorio. The government in Elgeyo-Marakwet County plans to honor the late marathoner by building an athletics stadium in his name.

(02/23/2024) Views: 342 ⚡AMP
by Marley Dickinson

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