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Raw emotions and lots of tears as athletes pay tribute to Kelvin Kiptum

There were raw emotions and plenty of tears at the Iten Stadium in Kenya on Thursday as residents and athletes came to pay their respects to Kelvin Kiptum.

The 24-year-old world marathon record holder and his Rwandan coach, Gervais Hakizimana, died in a car accident just over 10 days ago.

Kiptum’s death came just months after he set a men’s world record of 2 hours and 35 seconds in the Chicago Marathon, and was looking ahead to the Paris Olympics.

Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor, a seasoned marathon runner and runner up of the 2023 London marathon, acknowledged the loss of his fellow athlete and said upcoming sporting events would not be the same without him competing.

“I think the Olympics will not be the same again because many people were expecting a big battle from various athletes and strong athletes,” he said.

The star athlete was also reportedly planning a bid to run the 42-kilometre distance in under two hours in the Rotterdam marathon in April, a feat that has never been achieved before in open competition.

“We were really looking forward to what he was going to do. Because his ambition was to run it under two hours,” said Kamworor.

Thursday’s memorial service at Iten was the first stop on his casket’s journey from a morgue in Eldoret to his final resting place on his farm in Naiberi tomorrow.

Family members, athletes, and friends had gathered at the hospital in the morning as his coffin was loaded onto a funeral car at the start of a procession to accompany him home.

Kiptum was one of the most exciting athletes to emerge in road running in years, having broken the world record in what was only his third appearance in an elite marathon.

“I know how it feels for somebody who has broken the world record and just to die in a road accident, it’s very sad. So as an athlete, we have come here to give him a good send off,” said athlete Wilson Kipsang.

Following a vigil on Thursday night in his parent’s village, the main funeral is to take place on Friday with President William Ruto due to attend the service.

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