Kenya’s Sumgong wins Rio Olympics women’s marathon

Agence France-Presse
Kenya’s Sumgong wins Rio Olympics women’s marathon
Jemima Sumgong times 2 hours, 24 minutes and 4 seconds for Kenya's first-ever women's marathon gold over the 42km course

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (UPDATED) – Jemima Sumgong made the most of a kick with 6km to run to win Kenya’s first ever Olympic women’s marathon gold on Sunday, August 14.

Sumgong, winner of this year’s London marathon, timed 2 hours 24 minutes and 4 seconds for Kenya’s first-ever women’s marathon gold over the 42km-long course that finished at Rio’s Sambodromo with temperatures hitting 28 degrees Celsius (82F).

Just before the finish, a group of protesters carrying banners climbed over barriers and ran onto the course before being intercepted by police on motorbikes.

Bahrain claimed only their second medal in any sport when Kenyan-born Eunice Kirwa took silver, 9sec adrift of Sumgong, while defending world champion Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia claimed bronze, at 26sec.

Dibaba, in her first race since finishing sixth at the London Marathon, had led a lead pack of 7 runners through the 35km mark in 2:00.31.

But then with 6km to go, Kirwa surged, only Dibaba and Sumgang managing the pace.

Ethiopian Tirfi Tsegaye, who timed a world-leading 2:19:41 to win the Dubai Marathon at the start of the year and then finished second at the Boston Marathon, and Belarus’ Volha Mazuronak became the new chase pack as Bahrain’s Kenyan-born Rose Chelimo and American Shalane Flanagan were dropped.

Clocking 16:31 as their fastest 5km segment of the race, between 35km and 40km, the leaders’ approach to the turning course in the final run-in to the Sambodromo put paid to Dibaba’s efforts, the Ethiopian falling behind Sumgong and Kirwa.

Sumgong then turned the screw on former compatriot Kirwa down the home stretch to claim a historic gold for Kenya’s women marathon runners.

For a large part of the race, there was a lead pack of 15.

Hitting the halfway mark in 1:12:56, it still consisted of 13, including the North Korean Kim twins, Hye-Song in the pink shoes, Hye-Gyong in the blue, who went on to finish 10th and 11th respectively.

Mazuronak, wearing a tight bandana, surged briefly before she was reeled in, but American Amy Cragg and Kenya’s Helah Kiprop fell off the pace as the field began to split with the lead pack at seven.

Then came Kirwa’s burst before Sumgong showed all her experience to power past the Bahraini for gold.

Meanwhile, Philippine bet Mary Joy Tabal finished the race at 124th place with a time of 3:02:27, far from her goal of beating her personal best 2:43:31. –

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