, LONDON, England, April 22- Mary Keitany successfully defended her title as Wilson Kipsang scored his first Majors victory as Kenya claimed the London Marathon double on Sunday.
Keitany won her back-to-back title in a new Kenyan record of 2:18:36 as she timed her breakaway from mid race to perfection to banish the ghosts of last year’s New York Marathon where a fast start was punished in the closing stages of the race as she topped twice world champion Catherine Ndereba’s previous national standard of 2:18:47.
More importantly, the world half marathon record holder also sealed her London Olympics ticket as she topped a world class field that included four of the country’s chosen probables for the summer Games.
Incidentally, the selected Athletics Kenya pre-Olympics quartet occupied the first four positions with World champion, Edna Kiplagat trailing the winner home in a career best 2:19:50 ahead of her Daegu bridesmaid, Priscah Jeptoo (2:20:14) in third as Chicago champion Florence Kiplagat (2:20:57) finished just outside the medals.
Dubai marathon runner-up, Lucy Kabuu closed the top-five in 2:23:12 on her second outing over the distance.
In the men’s race, world champion, Abel Kirui pushed up the pace just before mid race as world record holder, Patrick Makau and defending champion, Emmanuel Mutai fell off the running with Kipsang and Ethiopian Feyisa Lilesa in hot chase.
Makau exited the race at 20K as Kipsang took charge of proceeding to engage in a solo run for the tape, arriving there in 2:04:44 to miss the course record ran last year by four seconds, the same margin he missed the 2:03:38 official world record last year when he won the Frankfurt Marathon in 2:03:42.
Having been one of the four London Olympics probables on show, Kipsang however, revelled in nailing a place for the summer jamboree in the same city in July.
Behind him, a thrilling sprint finish unfolded for silver as three-time winner, Martin Lel and the 2010 titleholder, Ethiopia’s Tsegay Kebede, who emerged for the last 100m a stride apart after an engaging attack from the back in the closing stages.
In the end, the lanky Kenyan, 33, used his superior kick to oust the Ethiopian challenger in 2:06:51 against 2:06:52 as Morocco’s Adil Annani (2:07:43) and his ever green compatriot and two-time world champion, Jaouad Gharib (2:07:44) finished fourth and fifth in another enthralling dash to the tape.
Kirui returned home in sixth (2:07:56) to cap his second late stage collapse at the same event following the 2010 race as the deposed titleholder, Mutai came home seventh in 2:08:01.
The final Kenyan marathon squad will be announced on April 30.
1. Wilson Kipsang 2:04:44
2. Martin Lel 2:06:51
3. Tsegaye Kebede 2:06:52
4. Adil Annani 2:07:43
5. Jaouad Gharib 2:07:44
6. Abel Kirui 2:07:56
7. Emmanuel Mutai 2:08:01
8. Marilson Gomes Dos Santos 2:08:03
9. Samuel Tsegay 2:08:06
10. Feyisa Lilesa 2:08:20
1. Mary Keitany 2:18:37
2. Edna Kiplagat 2:19:50
3. Priscah Jeptoo 2:20:14
4. Florence Kiplagat 2:20:57
5. Lucy Kabuu 2:23:12
6. Aberu Kebede 2:24:04
7. Irina Mikitenko 2:24:53
8. Jessica Augusto 2:24:59
9. Atsede Baysa 2:25:59
10. Jelena Prokopcuka 2:27:04