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A close friend of World Marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum has revealed their last conversation shortly before he received news of his tragic demise in a fatal accident on Sunday night.

Collins Kipkemboi, 19, was meant to join Kiptum and his Rwandan coach Gervais Hakizamana on a trip to Eldoret on Sunday, but an anticipation for a handout from his local MP caused him to delay and probably ended up saving his life.

Kipkemboi Tuesday told Nation.Africa that Kiptum had promised to take him to Eldoret town to watch the English Premier League match between Manchester United and Aston Villa on Sunday evening, but he had delayed joining them since he was waiting for a handout from Keiyo South MP Gideon Kimaiyo. The duo left him since the church service that the MP was attending was still on.

According to Kipkemboi, Kiptum then asked that he join them in Eldoret but he did not have enough fare for transport. He therefore patiently waited to approach Mr Kimaiyo because he needed Sh100 to add to what he had to facilitate his travel to Eldoret.

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Since he had been delayed for more than five hours, Kipkemboi says Kiptum sent him Sh300.

“I was eyeing a Sh100 handout from our Keiyo South MP who normally gives locals handouts after a church service but since Kiptum was in a hurry, he sent me Sh300 via MPesa as fare to Eldoret so that I could join them after the church service,” said Kipkemboi.

After receiving Sh100 from the MP, Kipkemboi had started preparing to leave for Eldoret when he received a text message from Kiptum telling him not to travel, but wait for him at Small town Chepkorio Centre where they were to watch the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) final together in Kiptum’s house.

With that information, he went back home to wait for his friend at Chepkorio later that evening to watch the game.

Kipkemboi said at around 11pm while at Chepkorio watching the Afcon final, he received a phone call from his brother who informed him about the athlete’s involvement in a road accident.

Together with other friends, they rushed to the scene to find the budding marathoner and his coach dead.
Kipkemboi described Kiptum as a generous friend who was always ready to help his friends and locals.

“This nice T-shirt that I am wearing was given by Kiptum. Talk to any youth from Chepkorio centre and you will hear good testimonies about the generosity of Kiptum,” said Kipkemboi.

Youths from the Chepkorio centre hailed the late Kiptum as a humble, social, and generous young man who was concerned about their welfare and always ready to share what he had regardless of his status.

“Even after winning the marathon, where he was given some money, he did not change. He was the same Kiptum who used to socialize with locals at Chepkorio Centre,” Moses Kemboi, a video owner at Chepkorio Centre said.

He said that on several occasions whenever Kiptum participated in an international competition, he would pay for all locals to watch the races.

Since his death, several shops at Chepkorio have closed and are yet to resume operations as owners chose to mourn their hero. Locals have been converging on the centre remembering one of their own.

“Whenever he won any race, there was celebration in this Centre. He would buy everyone sodas at Chepkorio to celebrate his victory,” said Edith Kiplagat, a vegetable vendor at Chepkorio, who revealed that all churches in the area had since January this year started holding prayers for Kiptum to win the Rotterdam Marathon on April 14 this year.

His pace setter Novestar Kirwa recalled how jovial Kiptum was during their last training at Fluorspar training camp on Saturday. He described Kiptum as a role model and pillar to youths in the area.

“I was to be his pacesetter in the April competition. I have been left an orphan, Kiptum was a role model to all of us,” said Kirwa amid tears.

—NMG

 

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