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Eliud Kipchoge Opens Up About Online Abuse Following The Death Of Kelvin Kiptum

Kipchoge says he "lost about 90%" of his friends amid the online hate.

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Even the marathon GOAT himself isn’t safe from online trolls.

Two-time Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge opens up about the torment inflicted upon him by ruthless online attacks following the tragic demise of fellow Kenyan marathoner Kelvin Kiptum.

The world was shocked by Kiptum’s untimely death in a car accident in February; a promising talent who was the first true challenger to Kipchoge’s dominance. However, amidst the grief, a malicious campaign began to unfold on social media, falsely implicating Kipchoge in a sinister plot to eliminate his competitor.

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“I was shocked that people [on] social media platforms are saying ‘Eliud is involved in the death of this boy,'” Kipchoge said to BBC, “That was my worst news ever in my life.”

“I received a lot of bad things; that they will burn the (training) camp, they will burn my investments in town, they will burn my house, they will burn my family.”

“It did not happen, but that is how the world is.”

Not only did the online threats put him on edge, but they also caused concern over his family’s safety.

“I don’t have power to go to police and tell them my life is in danger. So my concern was actually to tell my family to be extra conscious and cautious,” he said to BBC.

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“I started to call a lot of people. I got really scared of my children going to school and coming back. Sometimes they bike around, but we had to stop them because you never know what will happen. We started to drop them [off] and pick them [up] in the evening.”

“My girl was in boarding school – that was positive that she had no access as far as social media is concerned – but it’s tough for my boys to hear, ‘Your dad has killed somebody.‘”

“My worst moment was (when) I tried to call my mum,” he said to BBC, “She told me, ‘Just take care’ and ‘A lot has been going on.’”

“Where I come from is a really local area. And with the age of my mum, I really realized that social media can go everywhere. But she gave me courage. It was really a tough month.”

Despite his concerns, he made no changes to his training and took no extra precautions for his own safety.

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“I saw no meaning to change training venues because my life is open,” he explained to BBC, “Our sport is not training in the gym, it is going outside to run. I walk in the streets freely.”

Kipchoge said in an interview that he “lost about 90%” of his friends amid the online rumors related to Kiptum’s accident.

“It was really painful for me to learn even from my own people, my training mates, those who I have contact with, and the bad words are coming from them,” he added, “I was really down to see that.”

Kipchoge and his team, however, did decide to turn off social media. Although he didn’t consider deleting his accounts, the abuse began to impact his performance.

“If I delete my accounts, then it shows that there is something I am hiding,” he said to BBC, “I will keep my accounts. I did not do anything.”

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At the 2024 Tokyo Marathon in March, Kipchoge came 10th, his lowest finish in ten years since he began running marathons. He crossed the line over two and a half minutes behind the winner, Benson Kipruto.

“When I was in Tokyo, I had three days which I did not sleep,” he revealed to BBC, “It was my worst ever position.”

Regardless of the online abuse and its impact on his performance, Kipchoge was recently named to the Kenyan Olympic Marathon team, where he will try to make history in Paris by winning his third consecutive Olympic gold medal in the marathon.

“It’s about getting up and going straight again, to your goal,” added Kipchoge, “I want to go into history books, to be the first human being to win back-to-back-to-back.”

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Jessy has been active her whole life, competing in cross-country, track running, and soccer throughout her undergrad. She pivoted to road cycling after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology with Nutrition from Acadia University. Jessy is currently a professional road cyclist living and training in Spain.

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