Gelana upsets Kenyans to win soggy marathon
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
Ethiopian runner Tiki Gelana crosses the finish line to win gold in the women’s marathon at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Gelana set a new Olympic record in 2:23:7.Ethiopia’s Tiki Gelana won gold in the women’s marathon on the streets of London yesterday, denying the powerful Kenyans their first Olympic crown in a Games record time of two hours 23 minutes, seven seconds.
Priscah Jeptoo, part of a Kenyan contingent eyeing a medals sweep after last year’s one-two-three at the world championships, took silver, five seconds behind Gelana. Russia’s Tatyana Petrova Arkhipova collected the bronze in 2:23:29.
Gelana, who ran the second fastest time of 2012 in this year’s Rotterdam marathon, took charge of the race in the closing stages and 2011 world silver medallist Jeptoo did not have the strength to match her.
Mary Keitany, who has won the past two London marathons, was long part of the leading pack but slipped off the pace shortly before the 41-kilometre mark as the rain returned to drench the flag-waving crowds lining the course.
The big names were content to bide their time in the early stages of the race, which started in rain on The Mall, the road linking Buckingham Palace with Trafalgar Square.
Italy’s Valeria Straneo and China’s Zhu Xiaolin led a large group of runners at the halfway point, timing 1hr 13min 13sec and soon afterwards Russia’s Liliya Shobukhova, a three-time Chicago marathon winner, dropped out.
By the 25km mark, a group of six runners had edged ahead with the three Kenyans and three Ethiopians -- Mare Dibaba, Tiki Gelana and Aselefech Mergia -- four seconds clear of the field.
Mergia soon dropped out of the reckoning and as the sun appeared, the race looked set up for a straight shoot-out between the Kenyans and Ethiopians.
But Russia’s Arkhipova closed the gap on the leading pack and was in the lead at the 35km mark in front of Keitany, Jeptoo and Gelana, with reigning world champion Kiplagat dropping off the pace.
The same four were bunched together at the 40km mark but Kitany, who won the 2011 and 2012 London marathons, soon fell away, finishing fourth, a full 49 seconds behind the winner. Disappointing Kiplagat finished 20th.
The course started and finished on The Mall with one short loop followed by three longer circuits, showcasing many of London’s most famous landmarks.