The father of Kelvin Kiptum has called for an official investigation into his son’s tragic death after claiming four “unidentified people” visited his house looking for him in the days before he was killed in a car crash.
Kiptum, the marathon world record holder, and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana, were killed on Sunday night when he lost control of his car and crashed into a tree near the town of Kaptagat in western Kenya.
The 24-year-old Kiptum, who was a father of two, broke compatriot Eliud Kipchoge’s world marathon record in Chicago last year and the world of athletics has since been in mourning at the loss of one of its brightest stars.
Kiptum’s father, Samson Cheruiyot, a farmer, said his son had promised to build him a house and buy him a car through running. He said they last spoke a day before his death, where Kiptum expressed confidence that he was in shape to break the two-hour marathon barrier in Rotterdam in April.
In an interview with Citizen TV, the distraught Cheruiyot said a group of men had come to his home looking for Kiptum in the days before his death and he now wants answers after they refused to disclose who they were and what their purpose was.
Cheruiyot told reporters: “They said they wanted him and now that this has happened I am wondering what they were looking for at the time. What did they want from my son because they refused to identify themselves?”
Kiptum had established himself as the new dominant force in men’s marathon running and one of the most exciting talents in sport, becoming only the third man to break two hours and two minutes in a breakthrough debut in Valencia in December 2022 and then following it up with record runs in London and Chicago last year.
Kiptum was Cheruiyot’s only son and he promised his father he would “uplift” his family after refusing to further his studies in electrical engineering in order to pursue his passion of running.
Kiptum’s wife, Asenath Rotich, said they had planned to travel together to Rotterdam in April, where Kiptum believed he was in shape to become the first man to set an official marathon time of under two hours.
"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."
Kipchoge, the Kenyan great whose marathon record Kiptum broke in Chicago, paid tribute to his compatriot.
“I am deeply saddened by the tragic passing of the marathon world record holder and rising star Kelvin Kiptum,” Kipchoge said in a post on social media.
“An athlete who had a whole life ahead of him to achieve incredible greatness. May I offer my deepest condolences to his young family.”
Event director of the London Marathon, Hugh Brasher, said in a statement: “Kelvin had the sport of marathon running in his feet and at his feet. He was a ‘once in a generation’ athlete who was set to redefine the boundaries of our sport.
“Three marathons, three wins. The fastest marathon debutant in Valencia, London’s course record holder and the world record holder in Chicago, all within the space of less than 12 months.
“His was a flame that burned so bright and last night was tragically put out.”
Police said Kiptum was the driver of the car and the vehicle "lost control and rolled, killing the two on the spot". A third passenger, Sharon Kosgei, was injured and treated for minor injuries.