African curse of elite marathoners: Kiptum's death adds to list of horrors

When you look at the list of world record holders in the marathon, you discover three giant names in athletics who, unfortunately, died far too soon.

Kelvin Kiptum

The first was Abebe Bikila, the legendary Ethiopian who ran 42.195km races barefoot! And which had a tragic fate. First, he was paralyzed after a car accident in March 1969, after which he died in 1973, aged just 41. The tragedy occurred after a cerebral hemorrhage caused by the accident he had had four years earlier.

Now, in just 13 years, we have had two more highly publicized deaths among elite marathon runners. And what's really shocking is that these two tragedies have a lot in common, as noted by journalists from, a Kenyan website. The quoted source drew a comparison between the death of Samuel Wanjiru and that of Kelvin Kiptum. Two Kenyans who died far too early, before fully realizing their huge sporting potential.

24 years, a cursed age

From the spot, Pulsesports journalists noted that Wanjiru and Kiptum died at just 24 years old. And, for each of them, the accounts with the marathon event ended after a participation in the race in Chicago. And the coincidences continue!

Both Wanjiru and Kiptum died when they were in the thick of their preparations for the Olympics. Samuel was even set to defend his Olympic title in London in 2012, while Kelvin was favored to win his first Olympic medal in Paris this summer.

And one more common element: both runners had set their sights on breaking the 2-hour barrier. Noting that, however, Kiptum was much closer to that astonishing feat he was hoping to achieve on April 14 this year in Rotterdam. Wanjiru, on the other hand, had set this target for 2013. It should be noted that Samuel's results in the marathon event were recorded before the appearance of shoes with carbon plates in the sole, sometime in 2015. These shoes had an important contribution to improving the records in the marathon test.

Samuel Wanjiru

Samuel Wanjiru

Two shocking accidents

If Kelvin Kiptum has now died, along with his coach, Garvais Hakizimana (Rwanda, 36), after an accident caused by excessive speed, on the other hand, the disappearance of Samuel Wanjiru remains shrouded in mystery today.

On May 15, 2011, Samuel was caught by his wife in bed with another woman. After a monster scandal in the athlete's house, the cheated wife locked her unfaithful husband in the room and left full of nerves. Just minutes after this fiasco, Wanjiru landed on the pavement in front of their two-storey house. To this day, investigators have not been able to determine whether he jumped from the balcony or was thrown by someone there. Moreover, the autopsy only revealed that Wanjiru died from a blow to the head. However, it is not known if he was hit by an object before falling from the balcony or if the fatal blow occurred when he fell.

It is true that, unlike Kiptum, Wanjiru also had increasingly serious mental problems and, on several occasions, had threatened to end his days. His death, aged just 24, shocked the sporting world in 2011, just as it has now with Kiptum's disappearance.

Kiptum Wanjiru jpg