Legendary Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kipchoge found himself on the receiving end of Kenyans' wrath on Monday, February 12, after penning a heartfelt tribute to deceased athlete Kelvin Kiptum.
The reigning world marathon record holder and his Rwandese coach Garvis Hakizimana perished in a horrific road accident at Kaptagat area along Elgeyo Marakwet-Ravine road on Sunday night.
Police said Kiptum was driving the vehicle when he lost control, veered off the road, and plunged 60 meters into a ditch on his left side before hitting a tree.
The tragic news of the 24-year-old rising star's death sent shockwaves around the athletics world with tributes pouring in from across the globe.
The world had anticipated the potential showdown between Kipchoge and Kiptum at the Paris Olympics scheduled for July after he broke the former's world record at the Chicago Marathon in October last year.
Taking to social media, Kipchoge said he was deeply saddened by Kiptum's tragic death, terming it untimely.
He described Kiptum as a young athlete who had his whole life ahead of him.
"I am deeply saddened by the tragic passing of the Marathon World Record Holder and rising star Kelvin Kiptum.
"An athlete who had a whole life ahead of him to achieve incredible greatness," Kipchoge wrote as he condoled with Kiptum's young family.
"I offer my deepest condolences to his young family. May God comfort you during this trying time."
However, the tribute was not received well by a section of Kenyans, who faulted the athlete for failing to, publicly, congratulate Kiptum after he broke his world record.
"You didn't congratulate him yet you are quick to send your condolences. Give people their flowers when they can still smell them," one of the netizens using the handle @5peopleke wrote on X (formerly Twitter).
"Never congratulated him while he was alive and now you here sending your condolences?" @ngafocus criticized Kipchoge.
"Hypocrite. You are quick to mourn him but congratulating him when he beat you hands down is where you draw the line?" @Bossyator wrote.
Another X user @onsanse wrote: "You never celebrated him when he was alive. Stop hypocrisy. Rip young champ Kelvin Kiptum."
Amid the backlash, some stood with Kipchoge, saying he had the best intentions for the late athlete.
"Rest in peace Kelvin Kiptum. I know Eliud Kipchoge has the cleanest heart. He would never wish Kelvin any harm," @Haaland_sholla retorted.
Kiptum was the first man to run the marathon in under 2 hours, 1 minute in an official race when he set the world record of 2:00.35 in Chicago in October last year, beating the mark of Kipchoge, who is the reigning two-time Olympic champion.
Before meeting his death Kiptum's aspirations were high, as he was preparing for the Rotterdam Marathon in April this year, aiming to break the two-hour barrier for the marathon on a record-eligible course. Meanwhile, Kipchoge was gearing up for the Tokyo Marathon.