What you need to know:
- Namwamba said the world has lost a special, shining gem and a truly top-tier athlete.
- “We pay tribute to him for what he has achieved in his short life where he placed our country in the stars, “said Namwamba, who conveyed the government’s deepest condolences and sympathy to Kiptum’s widow, Asenath Rotich, and his young children, Caleb, 7 and Precious, 4.
The government is set to take charge of the late marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum’s funeral arrangements, but in consultation with his family.
Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Ababu Namwamba stated that the 24-year-old Kiptum was a national hero by any standards and stretch of the imagination, hence the country will honour him in death.
Kiptum and his coach Gervias Hakizimana perished in a road accident on Sunday at 11pm in Kaptagat along Eldoret- Eldama Ravine Road.
“We shall after this briefing travel to Kaptagat to view his remains and then consult with the family before sharing what we shall have discussed,” said Namwamba in a press briefing at the Talanta Plaza on Monday.
Namwamba, who was accompanied by World Athletics Vice President Jack Tuwei and Sports Principal Secretary Peter Tum, said he had already briefed President William Ruto.
“We wanted to inform the nation that we are consulting the government after informing the President immediately after the sad news broke. We shall make an official announcement on how we shall proceed forward with final respect for this hero,” said Namwamba.
Namwamba described it as a "dark morning for our country and the world’s athletics fraternity for the horrible loss of a brilliant young man, who had captivated the world at only 24."
“He was destined to dominate and rule the world of marathon running for a long time. Marathon is one of those disciplines where athletes have a much longer shelf life compared to other races,” noted Namwamba, who held back his emotions.
Namwamba said the world has lost a special, shining gem and a truly top-tier athlete.
“We pay tribute to him for what he has achieved in his short life where he placed our country in the stars, “said Namwamba, who conveyed the government’s deepest condolences and sympathy to Kiptum’s widow, Asenath Rotich, and his young children, Caleb, 7 and Precious, 4.
“I had the privilege of interacting personally with his great family including his parents and I can’t not start to imagine the scale of pain that this loss has inflicted upon them,” explained Namwamba.
Namwamba recalled that on October 10 last year, the athletics fraternity gathered to honour Kiptum after his monumental victory registered at the Chicago Marathon on October 8 where he set a new marathon world record of 2:00:35.
“We delivered to him the standard Sh5 million that the government had set aside for athletes who break world records,” said Namwamba, adding that Kiptum was top of the list of sports personalities that we recommended for national hours.
“We were delighted when President William Ruto conferred Kiptum with the Order of the Grand Warrior (OGW) on Jamhuri Day in December.
“We have kept track of him and we knew he was gearing up to take a crack at becoming the first human being to run a marathon under two hours
Namwamba said after his world record-breaking feat, the world was excited and looking forward to Kiptum’s attempt to become the first human being to run a marathon in under two hours at the Rotterdam Marathon on April 14, this year.
“We were equally with his prospects of him taking a shot in a marathon at the Paris Summer Olympics,” said Namwamba, adding that it is heartbreaking to lose Kiptum just after the World Athletics ratified his world record on February 6.
Tuwei explained the chronology of what happened on the night KIptum and his coach lost their lives as another passenger in the Toyota Premio that Kiptum was driving, Sharon Kosgei survived with serious injuries.
“Kiptum lost control of the car and veered off the road into a ditch where it crashed through for 60m before hitting a tree, grinding to a halt. Perhaps that is the impact that caused the damage,” said Tuwei.
Tuwei detailed Kiptum's brief, but compact athletics journey that started with victory in the 2018 Eldoret Half Marathon to his marathon world record-breaking feat on October 8, last year in Chicago.
Tum said Kenya was so sure of retaining the Olympic marathon title come the Paris Summer Games on July 26 to August 11 in the French capital.
“We knew come the Olympics, we were assured of gold but here we are mourning the loss of this icon that had started putting Kenya on the world map in the marathon,” said Tum.