LONDON, Kenya, August 5 – In the end, it was not the result that Kenya expected as the dream of winning her first Olympics women marathon gold fell five seconds short to the strong finish of Ethiopia’s Tiki Gelana.
Priscah Jeptoo, the least heralded of the Kenyans at London 2012 bravely took the fight to the lanky Ethiopian who broke Naoko Takahashi’s previous Olympics record of 2:23:14 with 2:23:07.
Jeptoo was rewarded for her best career performance with a third successive silver for her nation following Catherine Ndereba in 2004 and 2008.
The London 2012 Olympics are on their ninth day and Kenyans are getting worried that their heralded team is yet to deliver the medal that matters having missed out on the women 10000m, men 10000m and now the women marathon.
Favourite and twice London Marathon champion, Mary Keitany’s engine ran out of steam with 2km to go as she trailed back to finish fourth as world champion, Edna Kiplagat, surrendered much earlier at 30Km and slipped down to 18th.
Russian bronze winner, Tatyana Arkhipova who rose from 23rd at halfway to roar back to contention in the last 10km and together with Gelana, Keitany and Jeptoo, engaged in a cracking race for gold.
At this point, it was expected that world leader and record holder, Keitany (2:18:37) and Ethiopia’s national record holder Gelana (2:18:58) would challenge for the top two medals but Jeptoo, a third finisher in London (2:20:14) and the Russian whose career best was five minutes off the front runners held on.
The arithmetic of the race changed with just over the 39Km mark when Keitany fell off the pace and seizing the moment, Gelana gritted her teeth to for the finish, confident that her speed would prevail against Jeptoo who had managed to but space from the Russian.
With 200m to go, Gelana wincing in painful effort went for it as Jeptoo, with her gangly running style attempted to catch up but the tape came and the Ethiopian cut it in 2:13:07 as Jeptoo came in for the second medal in 2:13:12 also under Takahashi’s event standard ran in Sydney 2000.
Arkhipova won Russia bronze in a career best 2:23:29 as Keitany finished just off the medals in 2:23:59.
Ethiopia celebrated their second gold medal of London 2012 and the first in the women marathon since 1996 when Fatuma Roba raced 2:26:05 to win the top medal in Atlanta.
1 GELANA Tiki 2:23:07 OR
2 JEPTOO Priscah 2:23:12
3 PETROVA Tatyana 2:23:29 PB
4 KEITANY Mary 2:23:56
5 GAMERA-SHMYRKO Tetyana 2:24:32 NR
6 ZHU Xiaolin 2:00:22 2:24:48
7 AUGUSTO Jessica 2:25:11
8 STRANEO Valeria 2:25:27
9 MAYOROVA Albina 2:25:38
10 FLANAGAN Shalane 2:25:51