Marathon world record-holder Kelvin Kiptum, who was set to be a superstar of long-distance running, was killed along with his coach in a car crash in Kenya late on Sunday.
Kiptum, who was 24 had the world record he set last year at the Chicago Marathon ratified by international track federation World Athletics just last week.
He was one of the most exciting prospects to emerge in road running in years and was a clear contender for gold in the marathon at the Paris Olympics in August.
Kiptum, who was Kenyan, and his Rwandan coach, Gervais Hakizimana were killed in the crash at around 11 p.m.
Another Kenyan athlete, Milcah Chemos, confirmed their deaths
The crash happened on a road between the towns of Eldoret and Kaptagat in western Kenya, Chemos said, in the heart of the high-altitude region that’s renowned as a training base for top distance runners from Kenya and across the world and that was where the record holder was born and raised.
Chemos said she went to the hospital with other athletes and members of Kiptum’s family after hearing the news to identify his body.
Denis Muga, the area police chief for Kaptagat, said Kiptum was driving and it was the only car involved in the crash.
It appeared the car had veered off the road at high speed and collided with a tree before rolling.
He also said a third person, a woman, who was also in the car had been taken to the hospital with serious injuries.
The Kenyan track federation said it was saddened to announce the deaths of Kiptum and Hakizimana.
Kiptum was the first man to run the marathon in under 2 hours, 1 minute in an official race when he set the world record of 2:00.35 in Chicago in October, beating the mark of fellow Kenyan and marathon great Eliud Kipchoge.
He set the record in just his third top-level marathon.