Kenya: He Was Like a Son to Me - CS Ababu Still Broken By Kiptum's Death

21 February 2024

Nairobi — Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba has revealed he had formed a close relationship with departed marathon world record holder Kevin Kiptum, and they constantly chatted about his intended record-breaking run at the Rotterdam Marathon in April.

Kiptum, who passed away February 11 alongside his coach Gervais Hakizimana in a car crash near the Kaptagat Forest, was preparing for the Rotterdam Marathon in April, where he was set to make an attempt of becoming the first man to ever legally run a marathon in under two hours.

"The death of Kevin Kiptum has been a horridly painful experience for me," CS Ababu says.

"Kevin has been almost like a son to me. He was a brilliant young man, self driven and rising from the grass; the best manifestation of bottom up. To lose him at a time when he was just starting off is heartbreaking," further added Namwamba.

He also says; "We have been talking excitedly about Rotterdam and his attempt at a sub-two marathon and I was so confident that he would do it. We kept joking that we will not eat or sleep on that day as we watch him attempt to make history. Now it is all gone"

Namwamba visited the late Kiptum's family in his village in Elgeyo Marakwet the day after his death, comforting his family even as he said he would be given a national send off.

His burial is set for Friday in his Chepkorio village.

"It was heart wrenching viewing his body in Eldoret. This is a terrible loss for us as a country. We are talking about a young man who has really epitomized the very best about Kenyan sport and the spirit of kujituma. Kenya has lost a brilliant young person and a definite medal prospect at the Olympics in Paris," a heartbroken Ababu further said.

Meanwhile, the CS says that his Ministry will put more effort in heloing manage athletes and educating them on the importance of taking care of their personal spaces to ensure that no other unfortunate deaths are witnessed.

"The plan we have will broadly encompass areas like safety and security to ensure that the movement of our athletes is mainly around safe areas. These are prized national assets and you have to protect them. We need to have a framework that fully protects them," Namwamba said.

He adds; "I also want to challenge the athletes themselves to look into how they manage their social spaces and be a lot more careful in how they move around."

Kiptum's death echoed loudly the tragic deaths of former 400m hurdles World Champion Nicholas Bett in 2016 and years before, that of Samuel Wanjiru, who was Kenya's first ever gold medalist at the Olympic games. He also tragically passed away at 24.

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