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Kelvin Kiptum’s death deprives world of Eliud Kipchoge Paris Olympics showdown

By David Kwalimwa February 12th, 2024 2 min read

The Kenyan athlete Kelvin Kiptum stormed the sporting scene with a dramatic win at the Chicago marathon with an impressive record-breaking 2:00:35 timing in October 2023.

Four months later he was no more.

Aged 24, Kiptum alongside his Rwandan coach Gervais Hazikimana died in a tragic road accident on February 11, 2024, in Kenya.

His death is a big blow to his family, Kenyans at large, and the sporting world.

His demise also denies the world a chance to witness Kiptum, who until his death was the new kid on the block in the 42-km marathon race, against Eliud Kipchoge.

The two were primed to race at the Paris Olympics in June 2024.

Kipchoge is considered the best-ever marathoner. He’s won the Olympic titles in 2016 and 2020 and was the record holder in the race until Kiptum intervened last year.

Also read: Kenyan politicians mourn athletics icon Kelvin Kiptum

Kevin Kiptum and Eliud Kipchoge.
Kevin Kiptum and Eliud Kipchoge. PHOTO| COURTESY

The two were primed to race at the Paris Olympics in June 2024.

Experts and analysts all claimed the two would win the first two spots in the race. The debate was about who would take the first.

“I think what the world has missed out was a chance to see a symbolic passing of the torch,” said James Wokabi, a radio and TV presenter at Nation FM and NTV respectively.

“Ethiopia did it when Haile and Kenenisa competed in the same race in Paris 03 and Athens. For my money? They would only have gone against each other just one time. Because their respective managements would have ensured they avoided each other. So Paris was possibly the only chance of them ever competing against each other”

What shall we miss?

“Finding out just what he (Kiptum) would have achieved. He has died after just two years of marathon running and the understanding is He had not reached his potential. Regarded as a super responder, who knows what else he would have achieved? Basically, we have been left with a lot of what-ifs? And what would have happened,” opined Wokabi who won the CNN/Multichoice African Journalist of the Year award.

Also read: Details of the fatal accident of World Marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum

Mutwiri Mutuota, another winner of the CNN African Journalist Awards, opined, “Just like (Samuel) Wanjiru before him, it will always remain a case of what might have been. How low the barrier of the marathon will go? Before his death, Wanjiru had said he would go under two hours. Kiptum was advertised to have been attempting to do so on April 23 in Rotterdam. We shall never know… or whether we shall get such talent any time soon. For now, we can only celebrate the immense achievements Kiptum achieved at 24, just like we did for Wanjiru before him.”

Wanjiru, another Kenyan marathoner, died in mysterious circumstances in 2011, months after triumphing at the Olympics.