Hat-trick of wins for Kenyan athlete

2008-04-14 00:00

KENYAN Martin Lel made it a hat-trick of wins when he broke the London Marathon finish tape in a record two hours five minutes and 15 seconds yesterday.

Lel’s time broke American Khalid Khannounchi’s course record of 2:05:38. Fellow Kenyan Sammy Wanjiru, in only his second marathon, and Morrocan Abderrahim Goumri were second and third, also dipping under the course record in the first race to have three sub-2:06 finishers.

The initial pace saw nine athletes, including South Africa’s Hendrick Ramaala, pass 10 km in 29 min 10 sec, a pace well under the current world record, and suicidal for many athletes.

Ramaala was still in contact at half-way (62:13), taking up his familiar position at the back of the pack, but at 29 km, Lel, Wanjirui, Goumri, Emmanuel Mutai and Ethiopian Deriba Merga pried themselves free, with Lel leading through 30 km in a new African record of 1:28:29.

Slowing the early pace took its toll, leaving only Wanjiru and Lel in contention as they approached the palace bend, and allowing Lel to unleash his infamous marathon kick, which put him 60 metres clear of the 21-year-old. The first six runners finished under 2:07, while Ramaala held on to close the top 10 in a disappointing 2:11:44.

In only her second marathon, German Irina Mikitenko took the women’s title in 2:24:14 after dropping Russian Svetlana Zakharova with two kilometres to go.

Race favourite Gete Wami (Ethiopia), who beat Mikintenko in Berlin last year, fell with Saoud Salem at 30 km, but gamely reclaimed the lead by 33 km. A hip injury saw Wami unable to respond to the German’s attack, leaving the Ethiopian 84 seconds adrift and Zakharova earning her third runner-up trophy in London.

SA wheelchair exponent Ernst van Dyk looked set to take third podium place with 30 metres to go, when American Joshua George attempted to go around him in a sprint finish and, connecting Van Dyk’s chair, sent them both off into the fencing.

Kenyans continued their success in the Rotterdam Marathon, where William Kipsang led over the last eight kilometres to set a new course record of 2:5:49, 25 seconds inside the previous best by Felix Limo in 2004. Daniel Rono and Charles Kamathi took second and third giving the Kenyans a clean sweep.

A conservative early approach saw Russian Lyubov Morgunova win the women’s race ahead of Ethiopian Zekiros Adenach.

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