Gervais and Kelvin (Image via X)
Photo : Twitter
Born in Nyaruguru district in the Northern Province of Rwanda, Gervais Hakizimana is a man of few words who prides himself in one of the most remarkable athletics attainments that has left the globe in absolute awe.
Kiptum has been coached by a Rwandan since winning the Valencia, London, and Chicago marathons, where he set a world record time of 2:00:35.
The humble coach has been delivering Kiptum workout regimens using the messaging app WhatsApp while overseas, whether in France or Rwanda.
Hakizimana, 36, first visited Kenya in 2006 as an active athlete. He trained at Kaptagat, Uasin Gishu County, and competed in the senior men’s category at the 2007 World Cross Country Championships held in Mombasa.
Unfortunately, his trip was cut short due to post-election clashes, which compelled him to return to his own country for safety.
He would later study in France for three years before working there for four years.
Hakizimana owns the Rwandan national record for men’s 3000m stipple-chase with 8:39.05, and he competed in the 36th London Marathon in 2016.
He fell out of the race roughly after 33 kilometers owing to injury, and that was his final marathon effort, although he participated in minor events like 10km and half marathons in France and other international nations.
Gervais says that he met Kelvin Kiptum at a young age after returning to Kenya in peace following the 2007 unrest. The coach claims he established himself at Eten, Chepkorio, and used to exercise near Kiptum’s residence. Kiptum was young at the time, and he used to watch veteran sportsmen exercise.
“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 foresees 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.”