Kenyan runner Kelvin Kiptum, who died aged 24 in a car crash on Sunday, blazed to athletics stardom when he seized the marathon world record in Chicago last October.
Born in the Rift Valley, the heartland of Kenyan distance running, Kiptum was barely a teen when he began following elite athletes training in the legendary high-altitude region.
He burst onto the marathon scene in 2022 with a stunning debut in the 26.2-mile (42.195-km) distance in Valencia where he clocked 2:01:53.
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World Athletics called it the «fastest debut marathon in history».
Less than a year later and racing only his third marathon, he shattered the world record in Chicago, becoming the first man to run under two hours and one minute in a record-eligible race.
After flying through the course, Kiptum began waving and blowing kisses at spectators before crossing the finish line.
«A world record was not in my mind today,» he said afterwards. «I knew one day one time I'd be a world-record holder.»
At just 23 years old, his time of 2:00:35 shaved 34 seconds off fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge's previous record.
The two compatriots were anticipated to run together for the first time this summer at the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Known for maintaining a gruelling training schedule that sometimes surpassed 300 kilometres a week, Kiptum had only recently announced he was hoping to smash the mythic two-hour mark in Rotterdam in April.
«Kiptum was one of the most exciting new prospects to emerge in road running in recent years,» World Athletics said in a