Kelvin Kiptum’s story had barely started – his tragic death robs athletics of an extraordinary talent
In the hunt to find sporting meaning during the strange supporter absence of the 2020 Covid pandemic summer, the Brussels Diamond League opted to stage a rare assault on the one-hour world record.
Although 13 men lined up on the King Baudouin Stadium startline, the race was little more than a one-man time trial geared solely around Britain’s four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah. Everyone else was there to aid his cause.
Among the faceless dozen was an unknown Kenyan. At that point in his career, Kelvin Kiptum’s international pedigree was almost non-existent. A year earlier, he had led for some time at the Rotterdam Marathon, although the word ‘Pace’ located where his name would otherwise have been written on his bib betrayed his lowly status as a bit-part in a bigger picture.
Just as he had on that day, Kiptum failed to finish the one-hour run in the Belgian capital, managing to stick to Farah’s heel for all of 18 minutes before the pace became too tough and he soon dropped out. No one watching would have gleaned the slightest inkling of what he might become.
The tragic death of one of athletics’ finest ever talents will ensure the Kiptum story is one that remains forever unfinished; barely even started, in fact.
His astonishing three-marathon spell during a period of little over 10 months in 2022 and 2023 will surely never be rivalled: recording the fastest debut marathon in history, going even quicker to triumph on the streets of London and then usurping the great Eliud Kipchoge as the marathon world record holder.
Aged 24 and a father of two young children, the sporting world had only just begun to know him. Now, awfully, it never will.
The brutal nature of long-distance road-running means athletes are not meant to go about