Kipchoge pays tribute to Kiptum ahead of Tokyo Marathon. GETTY IMAGES

Eliud Kipchoge, the renowned double Olympic marathon champion, honoured Kelvin Kiptum on 1 March following the world record holder's tragic death last month. The Kenyan died as a result of a car accident when his vehicle hit a tree.

Kipchoge is preparing for this Sunday's Tokyo Marathon, which will mark his return to racing since the untimely death of fellow Kenyan Kiptum on 11 February at the age of 24. The 39-year-old Kenyan said it was "unfortunate that he left here. His career was in full swing and he was racing at a high level," he said.

The tragic loss of Kiptum sent shockwaves through Kenya and the global athletics community. Kipchoge admitted that the upcoming Olympic Marathon would take on a sombre tone, admitting that Kiptum's death would make this year's event "a little different".

Kiptum shared the podium in Chicago with Sifan Hassan, the women's champion from the Netherlands, who will also be running in Tokyo. The Ethiopian-born, who set the second fastest women's marathon time in history in Chicago, said she was "heartbroken" by Kiptum's death. 

"When he broke the world record in Chicago, I shared it with him. He was so young and he showed the world what was possible. It's very hard," Hassan admitted.

Sifan Hassan and Kelvim Kiptum after winning the 2023 Chicago Marathon. GETTY IMAGES
Sifan Hassan and Kelvim Kiptum after winning the 2023 Chicago Marathon. GETTY IMAGES

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

Kiptum has competed in just three marathons and holds three of the seven fastest times in the history of the event. He was favourite to win gold at the Paris Olympics, where he was expected to go head-to-head with Kipchoge for the first time. Kenyan police said Kiptum and his Rwandan coach Gervais Hakizimana were killed on the spot while a female passenger was injured.