NAIROBI – Kelvin Kiptum’s family said Monday their dreams and future hopes have been shattered following the death of marathon world-record holder in a car crash Sunday night.
Kiptum and his Rwandan coach, Gervais Hakizimana, were killed in the crash near the town of Kaptagat in western Kenya, in the heart of the high-altitude region that’s renowned as a training base for the best distance runners from Kenya and across the world.
Kiptum's father, Samson Cheruiyot, a farmer, said in an interview with regional network Citizen TV that he had lost his only child, one who had promised — a day before his death — to build him a house and buy him a car through running.
Kiptum's mother had complications following their son's birth and doctors advised against further pregnancies, Cheruiyot said in the interview. He recalled that in their last conversation Saturday night, Kiptum told him that he was at peak condition and felt he could run the upcoming Rotterdam Marathon in April in under two hours, predicting to bring down his record to 1:58-1:59.
Kiptum refused to further his studies in electrical engineering and chose to focus instead on running, which was his passion, Cheruiyot said.
“He said that he had enough of electrical wiring, and that if he continued running, he would uplift us," his father said. "I accepted and went to book for him a room near the training camp where he stayed until he won his first major marathon.”
Kiptum's wife, Asenath Cheruiyot, said they were to travel together to Rotterdam in April, where Kiptum hoped to finish the race in less than two hours. She added that Kiptum was to finance her business ventures.
“At times I would tell him he's working out too much,” she said. “He loved his children so much, I don't know what I would tell them.”
Kiptum was one of the most exciting prospects to emerge in road running in years, having broken the world record i n only his third appearance in an elite marathon. His record, set at last year’s Chicago Marathon, was ratified by international track federation World Athletics just last week.
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