The world of sports and Kenya at large is currently mourning the untimely death of World Marathon Record Holder Kelvin Kiptum.
Kiptum was involved in an accident at 11pm on Sunday, February 11, 2024, at Kaptagat area along Elgeiyo Marakwet -Ravine Road.
His death came only five days after his world marathon record of 2:00:35 set in Chicago last year had been ratified.
Kiptum became the first athlete to break 2:01 in a record-eligible marathon, taking 34 seconds off the world record at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on 8 October surpassing the great Eliud Kipchoge as the fastest man in the 42-kilometre race.
However, the tragic loss of Kelvin Kiptum adds to a growing list of esteemed Kenyan athletes who have met their demise in road accidents.
Even in the somber mood, we look at some of the top athletes in Kenya who met their demise quite tragically.
Kenyan Athletes Who Died in Tragic Road Accidents
Samuel Kosgei (2023)
Kosgei was involved in a road accident along the Kapsabet-Lessos road in May 2023 after hit-and-run incident by a passenger vehicle.
The athlete reportedly succumbed on the spot.
Kosgei had a decorated career, having broken the 25km world record after clocking 1:11:50 to cross the finish line during the Big Berlin 25km in 2010. He was also Gebrselassie’s pacemaker during the 2009 Berlin Marathon.
Furthermore, Samuel Kosgei also won the 2015 Kosice Peace Marathon, where he posted 2:07:07.
However, 2022 Daegu International Marathon on April 2 was his last marathon before he met his death. He placed seventh in a time of 2:08:39.
Nicholas Bett (2018)
Bett died on the spot after the car he was driving veered off the road and landed in a ditch in 2018.
The athlete made history in 2015 after he became the first Kenyan to win a gold medal at the World Athletics Championships in a race shorter than 800m in Beijing.
Kenya is known for its prowess in producing elite middle and long-distance runners, but Bett had changed the narrative and was poised to do more. He was 28 years old when he passed on.
Francis Kiplagat (2018)
Kiplagat is among those who perished in a grisly road accident on February 19th, 2018, around 11 pm at Kikopey area along Nakuru- Nairobi highway.
The accident, which involved North Rift Matatu, and a lorry claimed six lives, among them the athlete, who was on his way back to Eldoret from Nairobi.
The then 27-year-old competed in several road races abroad.
Kiplagat had nine career victories to his name with personal bests of 14:58 in the 5km, 29:45 (10km), 62:49 half marathon and a 2:15:57 marathon.
Kenneth Njiru (2018)
Kenyan international athlete Kenneth Muriithi Njiru was killed in a road accident along Nyeri-Nyahururu road on January 7, 2018.
His saloon car collided head on with a Toyota land cruiser ferrying tourists towards Nyeri.
He represented Kenya in 2018’s 3000 steeplechase at the 21st Africa senior athletics championships in Asaba, Nigeria.
Kenneth represented Kenya in steeplechase and long-distance running.
With a 300 meters steeplechase personal best of 8:18.48, he finished third place twice at the Kenyan national championships and finished highly at several major international road races and Diamond league meetings.
David Lelei (2010)
The former middle- distance runner died on the spot after his vehicle collided with a trailer along Nairobi-Nakuru highway in 2010.
Lelei was travelling to Nakuru with former world 10,000 meters champion Moses Tanui, who survived the crash.
Lelei won the 1,500 meters silver medal at the 1999 All African games in Johannesburg, and later that summer, he finished seventh over the same distance at the world championships in Seville.
He was fourth at the 2001 World Indoor Championships at 800m.
39-year-old Lelei had personal bests of 1:43.97 for 800m (2000) and 3:31.53 for 1500m (1998).
Jefferson Siekei (2009)
Siekei was killed in a morning road accident in Nyamira county in 2009.
The athlete died after the motorcycle he was riding on, alongside his training partner, collided head-on head with a truck.
The 25-year-old won the 2007 Kisii round of the athletics Kenya cross country series and was 12th in the 2006 national cross-country championship in Nairobi.
As the Kenyan athletic community mourns the loss of these remarkable individuals, their legacies endure, serving as a reminder of the inherent risks associated with pursuing excellence in the world of sports.