Ethiopian athlete, Desisa ends 18-year wait to win world marathon gold
London, Oct. 6, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Lelisa Desisa gave Ethiopia its first world marathon title since 2001 on Sunday winning in a time of 2hrs 10min 40sec. at the World Athletics Championships in Qatar.
The race began just before midnight to avoid the brutal daytime heat.
The 29-year-old led home an Ethiopian 1-2 — Mosinet Geremew (2hr 10min 44sec) taking silver and Kenya’s Amos Kipruto was third (2hr 10min 51sec).
Desisa — a two-time Boston marathon winner who donated his 2013 medal to the city after the city was hit by a terror attack on the day of his 2013 triumph, at the finishing line — emulated compatriot Gezaghne Abera’s win in the 2001 marathon in Edmonton.
In noticeably cooler and less humid conditions than last week’s women’s marathon, the early pace was set by Paraguay’s Derlis Ayala, who led by over a minute through 12km.
The 29-year-old Paraguayan lasted 20km in the front but was caught and passed by a sextet of runners.
There was no let up in the pace as Ayala dropped away with Eritrea’s 37-year-old six-time world half marathon champion Zersenay Tadese leading the way.
Ayala’s moment in the spotlight was over and so was his race as he called it a day shortly afterwards — at the same point the youngest runner in the race 21-year-old Tanzanian Augustino Sulle also retired.
Tadese, defending champion Geoffrey Kirui and Stephen Mokoka alternated in the lead along with Desisa of Ethiopia Kipruto — third in Tokyo and second in Berlin last year — and Geremew.
Six became four as Kirui’s crown looked to have slipped from his grasp and he faded away whilst Tedesay too looked to be weakening but hung on desperately.
Tedesay’s courageous effort finally met its end in terms of a medal as the bell rang for the final 7km circuit and the fast improving Briton Callum Hawkins moved in on him.
Hawkins, who has been training in his shed having bought heaters to try and replicate the conditions, moved easily past Tedesay and at the 39km mark had the leading quartet in his sights and joined them.
However, Hawkins having looked the coming man got dropped as they moved into the final kilometre and he had to suffer the agony of finishing fourth once more, just as he had done in 2017.
Desisa and Geremew kicked away and dropped Kipruto.
Desisa, though, had one final kick in him and eased away in the final half kilometre to take the tape on his own.