Kenya pays tribute to late marathon icon Kelvin Kiptum. GETTY IMAGES

Hundreds of people gathered on Thursday to march from Eldoret to his home village in an emotional tribute to Kelvin Kiptum, a day before his funeral. Kenyan President William Ruto and World Athletics president Sebastian Coe will attend the funeral on Friday.

Kenya and the athletics world continue to pay tribute to marathon star Kelvin Kiptum. Hundreds of people turned out on Thursday, a day before the funeral, to accompany Kiptum's flower-laden coffin as it was taken by hearse from Eldoret to his home village for burial. Some onlookers watched in silence, while others filled the air with hymns. 

Earlier this month, Kiptum, 24, and his coach Gervais Hakizimana, tragically died in a car accident in the Rift Valley. The accident occurred when Kiptum lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree. According to the pathologist's report, Kiptum died of head injuries. 

Mary Kangongo, his mother, and Asenath Rotich, his widow, sobbed uncontrollably at the mortuary as the wooden coffin was placed in the black hearse.

"It is difficult to accept that this has happened, it is a big void in Kenyan athletics," said Athletics Kenya executive committee member Barnaba Korir. Everyone had emotional words for the figure of Kelvin Kiptum. 

"We have lost so many athletes here in Iten, but Kiptum's death has hit everyone hard," commented local sports official Purity Koima said. "Kelvin, you achieved greatness and inspired us all," said Sebastian Coe in X last week.

Hakizimana, Kiptum's coach from 2019, was buried in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, on Wednesday. Kelvin's funeral will take place on Friday 23 February and will be attended by Kenyan President William Ruto and World Athletics Director Sebastian Coe. 

Kiptum became the only man to run a sub-2:00:35 marathon in Chicago last October, beating Eliud Kipchoge's previous record by 34 seconds. The 24-year-old father of two had recently revealed his ambition to break the legendary two-hour barrier in Rotterdam in April. 

The young athlete had competed in just three marathons and had three of the seven fastest times in the history of the event, making him the main favourite to win gold in Paris 2024.