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Family mourns Kenya's marathon prodigy Kelvin Kiptum

ELGEYO MARAKWET, Kenya : Kelvin Kiptum's devastated wife had been looking forward to watching him try to become a marathon legend as the first athlete under 2 hours. Now she is wondering how to tell their two children that their father was killed in a car accident.

Sobbing next to her in the village where they all lived, Kiptum's father is desolate that his only child has died, and with him the hopes for a better life for the family.

Police said the athlete lost control of the vehicle he was driving and veered off the road into a ditch, travelling for about 60 metres along it before crashing into a large tree in Kenya's Rift Valley. The 24-year-old's coach was also killed.

"He hoped to run in sub 2 hours. He was working hard and sometimes I told him he trained too much and when the time comes he will be too tired but he would so 'no, it is fine' and that he is supposed to go 10 laps," his wife, Asenath Cheruto Rotich, told Citizen TV in Chepsamo, the village in the county of Elgeyo Marakwet where the family lives.

"I used to tell him to rest on Sundays, but he would refuse. We had planned to go with him to Rotterdam in April. And now it is not possible," she said of the attempt on the almost mythic milestone.

Kiptum's rise to world marathon sensation from barefoot cattle herder was meteoric.

He ran only three marathons. In his 2022 debut in Valencia, he not only won the race but also clocked the fastest debut time ever. In 2023, after setting a new course record in London, he went on to make marathon history in Chicago, winning in 2 hours and 35 seconds to beat compatriot Eliud Kipchoge's previous world record by more than 30 seconds.

After Rotterdam, Kiptum was hoping to make his Olympic debut in Paris this summer.