Hundreds of mourners attend funeral for marathon star Kiptum in Kenya – Al Jazeera English

The 24-year-old set the world record in Chicago in October before his death in a car accident this month.
Marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum, whose dreams of breaking the race’s two-hour barrier were ended by a fatal car crash this month, has been remembered for his talent and humility at a funeral in western Kenya.
The service on Friday in his hometown, the Rift Valley village of Chepkorio, was attended by hundreds of mourners, including political and sporting dignitaries like President William Ruto and World Athletics President Sebastian Coe.
The 24-year-old Kiptum had run only three international marathons, but each was among the fastest seven ever recorded. He set the world record in Chicago in October in two hours and 35 seconds, shaving 34 seconds off his compatriot Eliud Kipchoge’s mark.
Anglican Bishop Paul Korir, who presided over the service, emphasised Kiptum’s humility and ties to the local community, where he had worked as a livestock herder and trained as an electrician before becoming a professional runner.
“He dined with the high and mighty, and at the same time, he came to play pool at Chepkorio,” Korir said.
His sudden death has left Kenya and the wider athletics community reeling.
“He was a real superstar whose path was on a spectacular upward trajectory,” said Jack Tuwei, president of Athletics Kenya. “All indications were he was going to beat the two-hour barrier.”
“Fare thee well champ,” was the front-page headline of Kenya’s leading Daily Nation newspaper on Friday.
Mourners, including 1,500-metre record holder Faith Kipyegon, started arriving for the funeral at dawn, some wearing black T-shirts with a picture of Kiptum on the front. They viewed the body, laid out in a half-open coffin on a red carpet as a choir sang religious songs.
Four giant screens streamed the service for the many villagers gathered outside the venue.
Kiptum will be buried later on Friday in a family plot near the city of Eldoret, where the government is now building a house for his wife and two children.
His widow, Asenath Cheruto, said she and Kiptum, who had a traditional marriage in 2017, had planned to hold a “colourful wedding ceremony” in April. “You have been the best husband and father to our children,” she said, breaking down into sobs.
Kiptum had hoped to break two hours at a marathon in Rotterdam in April and was also expected to make his Olympic debut in Paris this year in what could have been his first head-to-head match-up with Kipchoge. He and his coach Gervais Hakizimana, a 36-year-old Rwandan, were killed when the runner lost control of the vehicle he was driving.

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