Kenyans and the whole world on Monday, February 12 2023 woke up to the sad news of the demise of World Marathon record holder and London Marathon winner Kelvin Kiptum.
Kiptum died on Sunday night in a tragic road accident along the Eldoret- Kaptagat highway aged 24. His coach Gervais Hakizimana who was in the same vehicle with him also died in the accident.
The father of two made worldwide headlines on Sunday, October 8, 2023, after setting a world record in the Chicago Marathon, finishing in 2 hours, and 35 seconds, shattering Eliud Kipchoge’s record by 34 seconds.
His record was ratified by the international track federation World Athletics last week.
His potential to break the world record was evident in the 2022 Valencia marathon, where he became the third fastest man in history after finishing the 42-kilometer race in 2.01:53 in the best debut ever.
In April 2023, he dazzled in London with the second-best time in history, with 2.01:25, only 16 seconds away from Kipchoge’s world record.
He was scheduled to compete with Eliud Kipchoge in a Marathon in Rotterdam in April, where he had expressed his interest in becoming the first man to run an official marathon in under two hours.
He joins the list of other Kenyan athletes who died while at the peak of their athletics careers. Here are some of Kenyan athletes whose untimely deaths shocked the world.
Ugandan athlete Benjamin Kiplagat died in December last year in a possible murder. His body was discovered in a car on the outskirts of Eldoret with a knife wound to his neck, suggesting he was murdered.
The Kenyan-born athlete who died at 34, had represented Uganda internationally in the 3,000-metre steeplechase, including at several Olympic Games and World Championships.
In October 2021, record-breaking long-distance runner Agnes Tirop was stabbed to death at her home in Iten in a possible love triangle.
Her body was found in a pool of blood on a bed in their bedroom with a stab wound in the neck. Her husband Ibrahim Rotich was named as the prime suspect in the death of the athlete who had just returned to the country.
During her career, Tirop had success as both a junior – winning 5,000m bronze at world championships in 2012 and 2014 – and as a senior, winning the World Cross Country championships in 2015.
In August 2021, she finished fourth in the 5,000m final at the Tokyo Olympics and in 2017 and 2019 she won the 10,000m bronze at the World Athletics Championships.
In September 2021 just a month before her death, she broke the women-only 10km road race record by 28 seconds in Germany, setting a new time of 30 minutes and one second.
She died aged 25 years old.
Bett died on August 8 2018 in a road accident in Nandi county, aged 26 years. His car Toyota Prado SUV hit bumps in the road and rolled, landing in a ditch at Sachoi.
The late marathoner became the first Kenyan to win a gold medal in a distance shorter than 800m when he triumphed in the 400m hurdles at the world championships in Beijing in 2015.
He also won bronze medals at the African championships in 2014 in the 400 hurdles and 4x400m relay. His untimely death occurred just two days after returning to Kenya from the African championships in Nigeria in 2018.
Hosea Mwok Machirinyang
He died in October 2021 aged 35. Macharinyang’s body was found at his home in Murkwijit, West Pokot.
He was a Kenyan professional runner who won three consecutive team titles with the country at the World Cross Country Championships from 2006 to 2008.
In 2007, he won the Great Edinburgh Run and ran his half-marathon debut at the 2008 edition of the Stramilano 21km race, finishing fifth.
Samuel died on May 15 2011 after a fall from a balcony at his home in Nyahururu following an alleged domestic dispute.
He was a long-distance runner who won the 2008 Beijing Olympics Marathon in an Olympic record time of 2:06:32; becoming the first Kenyan to win the Olympic gold in the marathon.
He became the youngest gold medalist in the marathon since 1932.