NAIROBI, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- Freshly-minted world marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum received a heroic welcome on his return to Kenya on Tuesday following his astonishing 2:00:35 victory in the Chicago Marathon on Sunday.
Kiptum, who also holds the Valencia and London marathon titles, was awarded 5 million shillings (about 33,580 U.S. dollars) by the Kenyan government.
The previous record of 2:01:09 was set by Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge in Berlin last year.
Kiptum, who now owns three of the top six all-time fastest marathons, caused a stir at Nairobi's bustling Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as the waiting crowd surged to greet him once he touched down.
Moments after his arrival, the 23-year-old marathon sensation was adorned with leaves from the revered "Sinendet" tree, a tradition his native Kalenjin community reserves for adorning important guests or warriors returning from a conquest.
After being carried shoulder high the moment he left the arrivals terminal, his wife Asenath Kagogo gave him a swig of the fermented milk "Mursik" from a traditional gourd as his son Caleb, seven, and daughter Precious, four, watched on.
His parents, relatives, friends, and officials from Athletics Kenya were also at the scene.
Kiptum was then whisked away in a convoy of SUVs to a Nairobi hotel, where he addressed a press conference attended by local and international media.
Attention turned to a possible showdown with two-time Olympic champion Kipchoge, the man he dethroned as the record holder, at the Paris 2024 Summer Games next year.
"I am ready and looking forward to racing with Eliud Kipchoge," Kiptum told the media, adding that he would welcome the pair being selected to run for Kenya. ■