Marathon world record-holder Kelvin Kiptum and his coach died in a car crash in Kenya late Sunday, a fellow athlete who went to the hospital and saw Kiptum's body said.
Kiptum was 24 and on course to be a superstar of long-distance running.
Kiptum and his Rwandan coach Gervais Hakizimana were killed in the crash at around 11 p.m., said Kenyan runner Milcah Chemos, who was at the hospital where the bodies were taken.
The crash happened on a road between the towns of Eldoret and Kaptagat in western Kenya, she said, in the heart of the high-altitude region that's renowned as a training base for long distance runners.
Chemos said she was among a group of athletes who had gone to the hospital in Eldoret after hearing the news of the crash. Family members of Kiptum were also with them to identify his body, Chemos said.
Kenyan media reported that a third person, a woman, was in the car and was taken to the same hospital with serious injuries.
Kiptum was the first man to run the marathon in under 2 hours, 1 minute. He set the new world record of 2:00.35 at the Chicago Marathon in October, beating the mark of fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge.
Kiptum's record was ratified by international track federation World Athletics last week.
Kenyan athletics federation president Jackson Tuwei said he had sent a team of officials to the area after being informed of the late-night accident.
Kiptum had immediate success by running the fastest time ever by a marathon debutant at the 2022 Valencia Marathon. He won the London and Chicago races last year, two of the most prestigious marathons in the world.
World Athletics president Sebastian Coe was one of the first to offer his condolences in a statement on X, formerly Twitter.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana,” Coe wrote. “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 wrote.© Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.