Olympic Gold Medalist Feared for His Life After Colleague's Death

Written by Camilla Jessen

May.08 - 2024 1:31 PM CET

Photo: photocosmos1 / Shutterstock.com
Photo: photocosmos1 / Shutterstock.com
Marathon star Eliud Kipchoge feared for his life after his colleague's death.

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Eliud Kipchoge, the celebrated marathon runner and double Olympic gold medalist, has opened up about the severe distress he experienced following the tragic death of fellow athlete Kelvin Kiptum.

In February, the marathon world mourned the loss of one of its brightest stars, Kelvin Kiptum, a world record holder in the marathon distance, who died in a traffic accident.

The accident sparked widespread speculation in his home country about the cause, a situation that Eliud Kipchoge, also a double Olympic gold medalist at the same distance, found himself dragged into, causing him to fear for his life and the safety of his family.

"I was shocked that people on social media wrote that 'Eliud is involved in the kid’s [Kiptum] death,'" the Kenyan marathon runner told BBC Sport Africa.

"I received many terrible things. Some wanted to burn down my training camp and my house. They wanted to burn my family," he added.

The local police, through Police Commissioner Peter Mulinge, clarified that the accident was a solo incident, also claiming the life of Kiptum’s coach, Gervais Hakizimana. Despite the police confirmation, the threats and fear persisted for Kipchoge and his family.

Challenges in Personal Life

Kipchoge described the impact of the situation on his personal life, particularly the safety of his children.

He resorted to personally driving his children to school, especially his son, who faced harsh comments from peers.

"My daughter was at a boarding school, which was positive because she didn’t have access to social media, but it was hard for my son to hear that 'your father has killed another person'," he shared.

Despite suggestions to withdraw from social media, Kipchoge chose to remain active, concerned that his absence might be misinterpreted as guilt.

He admitted that the ordeal affected his performance, noting his tenth-place finish at the Tokyo Marathon, his worst since 2013. However, he remains optimistic and focused on the upcoming Olympics in Paris, aiming to make history by winning his third consecutive Olympic gold in the marathon.

"It's about rising again and continuing towards your goal. I will become the first in history to win the Olympics three times in a row," Kipchoge affirmed, showcasing his resilience in the face of adversity.

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