Coach behind Kiptum’s success

Tuesday, October 24th, 2023 01:42 | By
Record breaker Kelvin Kiptum and his coach Gervais Hakizimana. PHOTO/Print
Record breaker Kelvin Kiptum and his coach Gervais Hakizimana. PHOTO/Print

Born in Nyaruguru area in the Northern Province of Rwanda, Gervais Hakizimana is a man of few words but prides himself in one of the most astonishing athletics attainments that has left the world in utter shock.

The little-known coach is the proverbial guitar carrier for the record breaker Kelvin Kiptum who has since given the world several magical performances on different stages.

From winning the Valencia, London and now Chicago marathons where he clocked a world record of 2:00:35, Kiptum has been under the guidance of the Rwandese coach.

Via the messaging app WhatsApp, the modest coach has been sending Kiptum training programs while away, either in France or in Rwanda.

Hakizimana, 36, first came to Kenya in 2006 when he was an active athlete. He was training in Kaptagat, Uasin Gishu County and he even took part in the World Cross Country Championships that was hosted in Mombasa in 2007, taking part in the senior men’s category.

However, his stay was unfortunately cut short by the post-election skirmishes that forced him to return to his home country for safety.

He would later go to France for studies for three years and upon finishing, he worked in the European nation for four years.

Hakizimana, holds a national record in Rwanda for men’s 3000m stipple-chase with a time of 8:39.05 and he participated in the 36th edition of the London Marathon in 2016.

He dropped out from the race about after 33 kilometers due to injury and that was his last marathon attempt, although he taken part in short races like 10km and half marathons in France and other overseas countries

He reveals that he met Kelvin Kiptum at a young age, after returning to Kenya with normalcy after the 2007 violence. Hakizimana says he set base in Eten, Chepkorio and he used to train near Kiptum’s home. At that time Kiptum was young and he used to follow the senior athletes training.

“I used to do hill work at their farm in Chepsamo. Kiptum and other kids used to run behind us, they would follow us and try to copy how we ran. After he had grown to about age 17, he used to ask me for training programs.I would share mine with him but advising him to do half of the program since it was tough at his age.This went on until we started to train together before I retired.

Kiptums quest for athletics stardom began to show a glimpse of success when he won the 2018 Family Bank Half Marathon in Eldoret.

He went on to clinch the Kass Half Marathon in  November 2019.

“Before Valencia Marathon,I used to send him training programs on phone,I was in France that time. Kiptum really surprised me in that race.For sure I did not expect him to run that time of 2:01:59. I expected him to run like 2:05 hours.

“Prior to Valencia,he had dominated trainings at that time,I knew he was ready for marathons.He has a good endurance and very aggressive.”

Hakizimana further reveals that Kiptum wanted to make him known to the world after he claimed the London Marathon last year.
“For the London Marathon last year,I stayed with him for two months in Kenya,we had a good time in training.After winning the races,he wanted to introduce me to the world but I did not want.”

Asked whether he forsees the 23-year-old athlete run under 2 hours soon or later in his career, after Kiptum’s sensational show in Chicago that saw him shatter the world record, Hazizimana quickly responded sayng, “I really don’t know about that. He will be starting his training in December.

May be you can ask me that question after two months. But sub 2 hours is difficult. Not unless he does it in a special project.”

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