A whole bunch of mourners paid an emotional tribute on Thursday to Kenya’s world marathon record-holder Kelvin Kiptum, forward of his funeral within the nation’s athletics heartland.

Kiptum, 24, was killed on February 11 in a street accident close to the Rift Valley city of Eldoret, leaving Kenya and the world of athletics reeling.

On the eve of Friday’s funeral, Kiptum’s coffin, encircled with flowers, was carried in a hearse by Eldoret, some folks watching in silence, others singing hymns.

His mom Mary Kangongo and widow Asenath Rotich wept inconsolably on the mortuary because the wood coffin was loaded into the black hearse.

Kiptum, a father of two, is to be laid to relaxation in Naiberi, close to Eldoret, the place the federal government is constructing a brand new residence for the nationwide hero’s household.

“It’s tough to just accept this occurred,” mentioned Athletics Kenya govt committee member Barnaba Korir.

“It’s a massive void in Kenyan athletics.”

Kiptum burst onto the marathon scene in 2022 and shattered the world file in Chicago in October final yr.

He ran the gap in two hours and 35 seconds, slicing 34 seconds off the earlier quickest time, set by his Kenyan rival, the marathon legend Eliud Kipchoge.

– ‘His loss of life hit everybody onerous’ –

On Thursday, the funeral procession snaked its means alongside roads lined with followers and athletes because it headed in direction of Iten, the legendary high-altitude coaching area, the place mourners seen Kiptum’s physique in a half-open casket.

“My coronary heart continues to be so heavy. The entire household is in a vital, unhappy second,” his uncle Philip Kiplagat informed AFP.

He described Kiptum as a “nice man — somebody you depend on”.

Native sports activities official Purity Koima mentioned Kiptum was cherished by everybody.

“We misplaced so many athletes right here in Iten however Kiptum’s loss of life has hit everybody onerous,” she mentioned.

Shoe-shiner Paul Ouma, who adopted the procession on foot for greater than two kilometres (over one mile), mentioned Kiptum’s loss of life was “very painful”.

“We had been anticipating lots from him,” Ouma informed AFP.

In Iten, dozens of mourners signed a e-book of condolence.

World Athletics head Sebastian Coe, who arrived in Eldoret on Thursday, and Kenyan President William Ruto are anticipated to be among the many attendees at Friday’s funeral.

– ‘You impressed us all’ –

Police mentioned Kiptum was driving close to Eldoret at round 11:00 pm (2000 GMT) on February 11 when his automobile veered off the street right into a ditch and hit a tree.

His Rwandan coach Gervais Hakizimana, 36, additionally died whereas one other passenger, a girl, was injured.

Kenya’s chief authorities pathologist, Johansen Oduor, mentioned on Wednesday the outcomes of an post-mortem confirmed that Kiptum had suffered extreme head accidents.

Toxicology exams had been nonetheless below means, he added.

Hakizimana, who had educated Kiptum since 2019, was laid to relaxation within the Rwandan capital, Kigali on Wednesday.

The younger athlete had competed in solely three marathons, recording three of the all-time quickest seven instances for the occasion.

After flying by the course in Chicago, the then 23-year-old waved and blew kisses at spectators earlier than crossing the end line.

“A world file was not in my thoughts as we speak,” he mentioned afterwards.

“I knew at some point, one time, I would be a world-record holder.”

He was favorite to take gold at this yr’s Paris Olympics, the place he was anticipated to go head-to-head with Kipchoge for the primary time.

Identified for sustaining a gruelling coaching schedule that typically topped 300 kilometres (190 miles) per week, Kiptum had solely just lately introduced he hoped to smash the mythic two-hour mark in Rotterdam in April.

“Kelvin, you achieved greatness and impressed us all,” Coe mentioned in a tribute on X final week.


Now Local weather Change on the Newsmaac


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here