Eliod Kipchoge has paid tribute to marathon rival Kelvin Kiptum, 24, following his tragic death and says he had been destined to ‘achieve incredible greatness’.
He beat compatriot Kipchoge’s long-standing record in the process, while he was widely expected to win Olympic gold this summer and become the first person to run a sub-two hour marathon.
Kipchoge, who has spent the past few years trying to achieve that landmark, has now paid tribute to his rival in a touching post.
‘I am deeply saddened by the tragic passing of the marathon world record holder and rising star Kelvin Kiptum,’ wrote the 39-year-old on social media.
‘An athlete who had his whole life ahead of him to achieve incredible greatness.
‘I offer my deepest condolences to his young family. May God comfort you during this trying time.’
Kiptum was set to star at the Olympics in Paris this summer and his death has shocked the world of athletics.
World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said: ‘We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Kelvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana.
‘On behalf of all World Athletics, we send our deepest condolences to their families, friends, team mates and the Kenyan nation.
‘An incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy, we will miss him dearly.’
Kiptum clocked three of the seven fastest marathon times in history and had been hoping to run under two hours in race conditions at Rotterdam in April.
Kenya’s minister for sports, Ababu Namwamba, confirmed the news, also writing: ‘Devastatingly sickening! Kenya has lost a special gem. Lost for words.’
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