NEW DELHI, October 14 – Irene Jerotich displayed grit and determination to recover from a nasty fall to make history becoming the first Kenyan woman to win the women’s marathon gold on the final day of the 19th Commonwealth games in New Delhi India.
Jerotich was tripped by Namibian Beata Naigambo as the athletes approached the water station at the 10 kilometre mark sustaining a big wound on her right knee. But the lanky athlete picked herself up and slowly closed the gap on the leaders going on to win.
“It was really tough because it was hot and humid. Though I fell down, I thank God because I got up and fought because all I was thinking about was the gold,” she said adding, “I don’t want the lady behind me was thinking but I forgive her because it was unintentional.”
Jerotich added that it had taken immense effort to get back into the race after the fall, “I had to struggle very hard to close the gap-it was almost 100 metres so I had to fight just to close the gap before going on to win.”
The 36 year old was thrilled at making history. “It’s a very special win for me because no woman had won gold for Kenya and it gives me motivation to continue working hard.”
Behind her Irene Kemunto Mogaka who had done most of the pacemaking settled for silver. “It’s my very first time to win a medal for Kenya so am thrilled. The heat and humidity made it very tough but we worked as a team till the 30k mark and that helped us position ourselves tow in medals.”
The men’s race was not so dramatic but the winner John Kelai made history of his own by becoming only the second Kenyan to win gold. The last win came 20 years ago courtesy of Douglas Wakiihuri.
Kelai made his move with eight kilometers to go steadily opening a gap that he maintained till the end to win his first championships title.
“It’s been a long dream and am so humbled because of this victory. This is great honour for my country, for my people, for my family and myself,” he said.
“It took a lot of teamwork from my coaches, my physio, Athletics Kenya and my teammates today for us to win gold,” he added.
The gold medal he says will elevate him as he continues to build on his career, “I feel great because when you reach this level, it means you have reached the peak and you gain respect in your country.”