London, UK- Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia won the women’s Olympic marathon in a race that began in heavy rain, saw the sun briefly come out and ended in another downpour.
This marks the second gold medal in women’s marathon for Ethiopia after Fatuma Roba won in Atlanta in 1996.
Gelana finished in 2 hours, 23.07 seconds here today, holding off Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya by five seconds. Tatyana Petrova Arkhipova of Russia captured the bronze.
There were four runners in a bunched pack over the last three miles. But with the finish line ahead, Gelana made her move, grimacing as she surged to the front. With the rain falling, she kept glancing over her shoulder to see if Jeptoo was gaining ground.
Gelana coasted in and raised her hands as she crossed the line, soaking in the moment.
Meanwhile, Kenya’s East African rival, Ethiopia, has now twice won the Olympic marathon. Fatuma Roba took first at the 1996 Atlanta Games. At the London Games, Ethiopia has won both women’s distance events, with Tirunesh Dibaba taking gold in the 10,000.
Gelana, 24, had won the Rotterdam Marathon earlier this year in 2:18:58, an Ethiopian record. On Sunday, she bested the Olympic record of 2:23:14, set by Naoko Takahashi of Japan at the 2000 Sydney Games. Gelana ran the first half Sunday in 1:13:13 and the second half in 1:09:54 — despite her falling in a collision at a water stop about midway through the race.
Her fellow compatriot Mare Dibaba (2:28.48) and Aselefech Meria (2:32.03) finished in 23rd and 42nd respectively.
Sources: AFP & NY Times