It seems Kenyans will have to wait a little more for a women's marathon Olympic gold medal as the fancied trio of marathoners could only manage a silver at the London Olympics yesterday.
Priscah Jeptoo, the least favourite of the three Kenyans including world champion Edna Kiplagat and two-time London marathon champion Mary Keitany, came second in 2:23:12 to Gelana Tiki of Ethiopia who clocked an Olympic record of 2:23:07.The previous record of 2:23:14 was the preserve of Naoko Takahashi of Japan, clocked at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Jeptoo's marathon silver was the third for Kenya following Catherine Ndereba's brace at the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Race favourite Kaitany seemed primed for the title after controlling the better part of the race together with the other two Kenyans in a pack of five but dropped off with about two kilometers to go and could not find her rhythm again to finish fourth in 2:23:56 behind bronze winner Petrova Tatyana (2:23:29). 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 Petrova 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.
Kiplagat finished a disappointing 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. Gelana's gold was Ethiopia's second following Fatuma Roba's victory at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
1. Tiki Gelana 2:23:07 (Eth)
2. Priscah Jeptoo 2:23:12 (Ken)
3. Tatyana Petrova Arkhipova 2:23:29 (Rus)
4. Mary Jepkosgei Keitany 2:23:56 (Ken)
5.Tetyana Gamera-Shmyrko 2:24:32 (Ukr)
6. Xiaolin Zhu 2:24:48 (Chn)
7. Jessica Augusto 2:25:11 (Por) .
8. Valeria Straneo 2:25:27 (Ita).
9. Albina Mayorova 2:25:38 (Rus)
10. Shalane Flanagan 2:25:51 (USA)
Copyright © 2012 The Star. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.
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