Kenyan Sumgong claims historic marathon gold

Jemima Jelagat Sumgong won gold in the women's Olympic marathon on Sunday in two hours, 24 minutes and four seconds to become the first Kenyan woman to take the title.

Jemima Sumgong became the first Kenyan woman to claim Olympic marathon gold by winning an enthralling race on a sweltering day in Rio.

Sumgong won the London Marathon despite hitting her head following a fall in April and the 31-year-old made history in Brazil by taking victory in a time of two hours, 24 minutes 04 seconds.

Eunice Kirwa, born in Kenya but representing Bahrain, could not react when Sumgong hit the front with just over a kilometre remaining and had to settle for silver after finishing nine seconds back from Sumgong. World champion Mare Dibaba was dropped in the closing stages late in the race but comfortably sealed bronze for Ethiopia in Sambodromo.

Many runners struggled in the heat and a group of around 12 athletes at the front was reduced to nine at the 25km mark, with Bahrain's Rose Chilemo heading them up. Tigist Tufa, billed as a leading contender, dropped out before the halfway mark and there were issues with poorly staffed feeding stations on a day in which it was vital to replenish.

Kirwa, Dibaba and Sumgong broke away with around five kilometres remaining and it was the former, fourth in the World Championships last year, who came up with one final turn of pace to open up a small advantage and go on to take gold.

An exhausted Sumgong dropped to her knees after crossing the line, having broken new ground for Kenya. "I was never worried that I'd lose this," said Sumgong. "At 40 kilometres I knew the gold was mine. At 35km I noticed that my other two team-mates had dropped off and that gave me the motivation to carry on.

"At 40km I saw there were three of us, but I knew whatever happened I couldn't lose the gold and then I knew I was on the way to history."

It was a family affair on the streets of Rio, with identical triplets Leila, Lily and Liina Luik running for Estonia.

Identical twins Kim Hye-song and Kim Hye-gyong clocked the same time and German twins Anna and Lisa Hahner also crossed the line together.

 

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