Brother Colm O'Connell: Kelvin Kiptum set the marathon scene alight in Kenya
The death of men's marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum has left Kenya in a state of shock, according to Brother Colm O'Connell, the Irishman who for many years has helped foster the growth of distance running in the African country.
On Sunday, Kiptum died along with his coach Gervais Hakizimana in a road accident.
The 24-year-old set a new world record of two hours and 35 seconds at the Chicago Marathon in October last year.
He also won the London Marathon in 2023 with a record time of two hours, one minute and 25 seconds - and at the 2022 Valencia Marathon, Kiptum set the record for the fastest debut marathon in history, crossing the line in a course record of two hours, one minute and 53 seconds.
O'Connell, a Patrician Brother, was born in Co Cork, but in 1976 a teaching position took him to Kenya. He has lived there ever since. Despite having no coaching background in athletics, O'Connell would go on to set up training camps, where future world and Olympic champions would emerge. He is known as 'The Godfather of Kenyan running'.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio's News at One, O'Connell summed up the mood in Kenya, following Kelvin Kiptum tragic passing.
"The whole country is stunned by the news that one of our iconic athletes had passed away rather tragically," he said.
"It is a big shock because he was a young man with a bright future. In an Olympic year many people were loooking forward to him being in contention for a medal. A real shock for the athletics fraternity and for people who knew him personally. It is big setback to our Olympic dreams, as Kelvin could have featured in the next two or three Olympics
O'Connell also spoke about Kiptum's rapid rise.
"He only came on the scene a couple of years ago but he ran some