Ethiopia has scored its first marathon title since 2001 with Lelisa Desisa placing first at the World Athletics Championships in Qatar. The race began just before midnight to avoid the brutal daytime heat.
Lelisa Desisa ran 2 hours, 10 minutes and 40 seconds and forced a sprint finish to win the marathon race in Doha, Qatar and claim the gold medal for Ethiopia on Saturday.
The 29-year-old Desisa placed ahead of his compatriot Mosinet Geremew and Kenya’s Amos Kipruto. Geremew was only four seconds slower than Desisa, with Kipruto 11 seconds behind Desisa’s time.
Desisa’s win brings the first world championship marathon gold for Ethiopia in 18 years.
“This is for 100 million of Ethiopians who were behind me,” said Desisa after the race. “I am the second man from my country to win this title and it is not just for me, it is for my country.”
Qatar organizers scheduled the race to start around midnight, to take advantage of cooler temperatures.
Desisa claimed silver at a 2013 championships in Russia.
Separately, Desisa won the Boston Marathon in 2013 and 2015. After the city was hit by a terror attack on the day of his 2013 triumph, Desisa donated his medal to the city.