LONDON, April 23- Jemima Sumgong of Kenya survived a bad fall late in the race to win the women’s London Marathon for the first time on Sunday.
Sumgong banged the side of her head off the road when three runners went down after clashing 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.
She posted an unofficial time of two hours 22 minutes and 58 seconds.
A fast time looked on the cards early with the lead group covering the first 10km in 32:43 courtesy of the trademark aggressive running of Mary Keitany but with Olympic places on the line, the race soon developed into a more cagey affair.
A group of seven, all from Kenya or Ethiopia, were bunched together through the halfway point, passed in 1:10:45, and 30km in 1:41:39.
The decisive moment came just before the 35km checkpoint when the tight bunching caused a collision with Jemima Sumgong, Aselefech Mergia and Mary Keitany all falling hard to the road.
Repeatedly clutching her head as she pursued the leaders, Sumgong seemed to come off the worse in the collision but the Kenyan was the only faller to regain contact with the pack.
Soon after, seemingly against the odds, Sumgong hit the front with real purpose.
After a succession of slower miles, Sumgong covered the 23rd, 24th and 25th miles in 5:15, 5:13 and 5:16 respectively to shake off her challengers except for defending champion Tigist Tufa..
Sumgong’s 25th mile split of 5:16 was enough to forge a small gap on Tufa and this gap largely remained the same to the finish.
After a string of near misses with second-place finishes in New York, Boston and Chicago to her name, Sumgong claimed her biggest win to date in 2:22:58 with Tufa second in 2:23:03.
World half marathon record-holder Florence Kiplagat didn’t enjoy the best preparation coming into this race but came home third in 2:23:39 while former international race walker Volha Mazuronak, from Belarus, ran a sizeable negative second half split of 70:35 to claim a surprise fourth in a lifetime best of 2:23:54.
Mergia rallied in the closing stages to claim fifth in 2:23:57 but Keitany, who showed signs of beginning to struggle even before she fell, faded back to ninth in 2:28:30.
Additional report from IAAF