Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sammy Wanjiru Wins Gold Medal for Kenya in Marathon Race at the Beijing Olympics

Marathon gold for Kenya's Wanjiru

Sammy Wanjiru won Kenya's first ever gold in the men's marathon, breaking the Olympic record despite the soaring heat in Beijing.

Wanjiru, who was among the leading pack which set the fast early pace, pulled away in the final kilometres to win in 2 hours six minutes and 32 seconds.

Morocco's Jaouad Gharib won silver, trailing by 84 seconds, while Ethiopian Tsegay Kebede took bronze.

Dan Robinson, Britain's only representative, finished in 24th place.

Wanjiru, 21, and compatriot Martin Lel set a punishing pace in the first five kilometres which reduced the leading pack to eight, with Spain's Cheme Martinez the only non-African.

The leading pack was then whittled down to five as Wanjiru pushed the pace up a notch at the 15km mark, and 20km later just Wanjiru, Gharib and Ethiopia's Deriba Merga could sustain the phenomenal tempo.

Wanjiru always looked the stronger of the trio and the Kenyan, who made his marathon debut last year, made a final spurt to win by a comfortable margin.

Gharib and Merga were left to fight it out for silver and bronze, but the latter fell away in the last two km to finish fourth.

Story from BBC SPORT:
Published: 2008/08/24 01:43:39 GMT

Finally, Bungei bags the big one

Wilfred Bungei of Kenya (2246) crosses the finish line first to win the men's 800m final of the athletics competition in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on Saturday. Ismail Ahmed Ismail of Sudan (2914) finished second and Alfred Kirwa Yego of Kenya third in the event.

Saturday, August 23 2008 at 19:49

The 28-year-old’s lucky number is three and when he was drawn in lane three for Saturday’s race.

Bungei said his 10 years of training in Verona, Italy, where he is currently under Italian coach, Gianni Ghidini, had finally paid off.

Wilfred Bungei shed a tear as the Kenyan national anthem was played for the fourth time at Beijing’s National Olympic stadium on Saturday night.

His efforts had finally been rewarded with an Olympic gold medal in the 800 metres.

With defending Olympic champion, Russia’s Yuriy Borzakovskiy, eliminated in the semi-finals along with the fastest man this season so far, Sudan’s Abubaker Kaki, Bungei knew the gold was either his or team-mate Alfred Kirwa Yego’s for the taking and did not take any chances in his game plan.

The 28-year-old’s lucky number is three and when he was drawn in lane three for Saturday’s race, the stars were shining down on him already.

“The idea was that I would just try and go out there and just run,” he revisited.

“Sometimes when you come into a race with the plan to lead and you don’t end up in the lead, you panic. So I needed to take the race as it was going to come. I found myself in the lead and I said ‘let’s just go’ to myself.”

Indeed, Bungei controlled the race perfectly with a 53.35-second first lap that had him lead Bahrain’s Yusuf Saad Kamel (formerly Gregory Konchellah of Kenya) with Kirwa deep in the pack going into the last 100 metres.

Sprint finish

The world champion, who was placed fifth with 100 metres to go, was forced to make his way out of the mob through to lane three for the sprint finish.

“It was a tactical error that messed me up. I found myself too deep in the crowd and I has to come out and find room to print to the finish but it was a little too late for the gold,” Kirwa said.

Bungei, the world indoor 800m champion in 2006 (Moscow) said his 10 years of training in Verona, Italy, where he is currently under Italian coach, Gianni Ghidini, had finally paid off.

“For the last 10 years I’ve been training in Italy because for middle distance and short distance races, its not always good to train at high altitude places like Kenya.”

For Langat, last night’s victory was the climax of a career she has gradually built since 1995 when she qualified to run in the Kenyan team at the World Cross Country Championships but was locked out as she was underage, finally making her debut the following year.

“My father was also an athlete who ran in the 5,000m and he encouraged me a lot to take up athletics,” the 27-year-old Armed Forces star said.


Langat was third after the first lap with favourite, world champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain, leading at the bell after which the Kenyan gold medallist emerged with 200 metres to go, closing the gap on Jamal before opening up a 20-metre gap at the finish.

The men’s 5,000m metres was not as close with the three Ethiopians – Kenenisa Bekele, his brother Tariku Bekele and Abreham Cherkos - doing the front running as Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge and Edwin Soi kept close tabs.

But the group could not go with Kenenisa when he made his traditional mad dash to the finish line.

“My plan was to pick up the pace very fast and indeed it was a fast race. After hard work and so much effort, I’m very happy to achieve the double,” said Kenenisa who also won the 10,000m gold medal.

Kenya’s debutante, Edwin Soi was overwhelmed at bagging the bronze with a season’s best 13:06.22.

“I will celebrate with my team-mates. I’ve called my family but they didn’t pick up the phone. I guess maybe they are still yelling,” Soi said.

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