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Family leads emotional tributes at funeral for marathon hero Kelvin Kiptum

Kenyan politicians and leaders in sports gathered on Friday for a funeral service celebrating the life of marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum, who died in a road accident last Sunday.

President William Ruto attended the ceremony, which was held in Kenya’s Elgeyo Marakwet county, and was accompanied by his Deputy President, Rigathi Gachagua, and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi.

Kiptum, 24, and his coach Gervais Hakizimana died at the scene of the crash outside the Rift Valley town of Eldoret, police said.

Kiptum’s widow, Asenath Cheruto, led the ceremony and paid tribute to her late husband with a moving speech.

“My dear love, I cannot learn how to say goodbye to you. With weak fingers and pain in my heart. It is unbelievable that today I have learned to stay with our beloved kids without you coming home again. I mourn my love,” Cheruto said while fighting back tears.

She expressed her regret that they didn’t get the opportunity to have their wedding ceremony party, which was scheduled for April this year.

“We were planning for a big day to tie our knots in a colorful wedding ceremony in April 2024 but God’s plans are greater,” said Cheruto, who was officially married to Kiptum several years ago. “I will still make my vows of love even in your rest.”

Kiptum’s two children were also represented in a short tribute read by a family spokesperson.

“Dear Dad, We still cannot believe that you have left us. We will always remember and love you. You left a big void in our lives and life will never be the same again. You will always be in our thoughts (…) we love you, Daddy,” the children’s statement said.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe also took the podium to share his grief and sadness for his passing, which has deprived him and the world of seeing Kiptum achieving “greater exploits.”

“That a young life ends so soon, and in such a devastating way, is and of itself enough cause to grief. That a young life that had in so few years scaled the highest peaks of athletic achievement is prevented from even greater exploits is a cause of intense sadness,” Coe said, adding that “Kelvin would have written more chapters in the lustrous history of Kenyan and world athletics.”

“There can be a few words from me today that can ease the pain and sense of loss. For Kelvin’s family, his fellow athletes, the legion of friends from within and beyond athletics … But I can speak on behalf of the entire world athletics family,” Coe said

“Kelvin, you will be missed. Our grief and sadness will take time to dissipate. Rest assured, your achievements are treasured, indelible, and secure in the annals of our history and never, ever forgotten,” he added.

The President of Athletics Kenya Jackson Tuwei announced that Golazo, a company specializing in athletes management, is launching the Kelvin Kiptum Foundation, which “will predominantly provide continued financial support for education and infrastructure.”

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