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London Marathon wins for Kipchoge, Sumgong boost Kenya

24 April 2016, 19:15

London - Eliud Kipchoge and Jemima Sumgong gave a timely boost to the tarnished reputation of Kenyan athletics on Sunday with courageous wins in the men's and women's London Marathons.

Kipchoge set a new course record for the men in winning the full-distance London race for the second straight year.

The 31-year-old former track star clocked an official time of 2hrs 03mins 04secs, the second fastest run in history over the distance, just seven seconds shy of the world record set by fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto at the Berlin Marathon in September 2014.

Kipchoge broke clear of another Kenyan, Stanley Biwott, with about three kilometres to go and sprinted home well ahead of Biwott with track legend Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia in third.

He celebrated by raising his finger as he made the final turn but appeared to realise just before the line that he could have broken Kimetto's world best time.

Kipchoge is the first man to win back-to-back London marathons since Martin Lel of Kenya in 2008.

"With six kilometres to go it was a tie between going for the world record time and winning. I am happy I have ran the course very well," he told the BBC.

"I am really happy with the programme I've been undergoing and I'm happy with the course record today.

"The crowd is what pushed me. It is a wonderful crowd in every kilometre, except in the tunnel, they cheer you and it keeps you moving."

For Biwott it was the second time he has finished runner-up in London after 2014. He was fourth behind winner Kipchoge last year. His time of 2:03:51 was a personal best

Former Olympic and world track champion over 5,000 and 10,000 kms Bekele showed a return to form after a niggling series of injuries.

Earlier Kenya's Sumgong survived a bad fall late in the race to win the women's London Marathon for the first time.

Sumgong banged the side of her head off the road when three runners went down after tripping each other up at a drinks station, but she rejoined the leaders and eventually outpaced last year's winner, Tigist Tufa of Ethiopia, over the last mile.

It was the Kenyan's first major marathon victory since Rotterdam three years ago and followed runner-up finishes in Boston, Chicago and New York.

She posted an unofficial time of two hours 22 minutes and 58 seconds, five seconds ahead of Tufa with third place going to Florene Kiplagat of Kenya in 2:23:29.

"When we were heading to the five kilometre mark to take water, we made a mistake of maybe crossing each other," said Sumgong of her fall.

"I was just concentrating on my running. It was very painful on my head, my shoulder and my knee. But I feel OK now. I enjoyed it."

The Kenyan double in London will boost morale back home after the shockwaves that came from 40 Kenyan athletes testing positive for banned substances over the past five years.

The east African nation's government has subsequently moved to avoid a potential ban from the Rio Olympics by passing a new law last week to make doping a criminal offence.

None of Kenya's current top marathon runners have been implicated in the doping scandals.



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