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News14 Oct 2010

Double marathon triumph for Kenya ends athletics programme at Commonwealth Games


John Kelai of Kenya (1571) heads the leading pack in the Men's Marathon at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India (© Getty Images)

Marathon wins here today (14) for John Ekiru Kelai and Irene Jerotich Kosgei consolidated Kenya’s achievement in becoming the most successful nation in athletics at a Commonwealth Games for the first time.

Kenya has finished the 19th Commonwealth Games with 11 gold medals, 10 silver and eight bronze in track, field and road events, bettering Australia's total of 11 gold, six silver and three bronze.

Kosgei became Kenya's first female Commonwealth Games Marathon champion despite suffering a nasty fall at a drinks station early in the race after colliding with a competitor and was helped to her feet by an on-course official.

She completed the course with blood seeping from her grazed knee, pulling away from her last remaining rival, team-mate Irene Mogake, in the final three kilometres to win in 2:34:32.

Mogake took silver in 2:34:43, with Australia’s Lisa Weightman who twice dropped away from the leading group before managing to regain contact, claiming bronze ahead of Beata Naigambo of Namibia in 2:35.25 before being taken from the finish line at Sansad Marg in a wheelchair, temporarily exhausted.

Kelai had claimed Kenya’s tenth athletics gold here in a time of 2:14:35, becoming only the second Kenyan to win the Commonwealth men’s Marathon after Douglas Wakiihuru at the Auckland Games of 1990.

Australia’s Michael Shelley, running the marathon for only the second time, was a jubilant silver medallist in 2:15:28 after a well-timed final charge, and Kenya’s Amos Tirop Matui took bronze in 2:15:58.

Kelai had surged with 10km remaining to move away from Matui, Reinhold Iita of Namibia and defending champion Samson Ramadhani Nyoni, of Tanzania, who finished fifth in 2:19:31 after leading the field through the 20km and 30km marks.

Kelai's winning break left Matui and Nyoni battling for the minor medals before Nyoni slowed and lost the chance to become only the second man to defend his Commonwealth Games title after Robert De Castella of Australia, who won in 1982 and 1986.

Shelley overtook Nyoni, then Matui, within the final 3km, having passed the halfway mark in eighth position.

"I feel great,” said Kelai. “I am so humbled to win here. It is an honour. I didn't know I could be the winner. I knew it was going to be tough."

"I feel on top of the world. This is for my country, the people, coaches and officials. All of us are going to celebrate. When you can win at this level you know you have reached your peak.”

"I am very strong. The weather is feeling difficult but I was very prepared, mentally very prepared. I saw my friend slowing a bit. I was relaxed and knew I could push the race."

Shelley commented: "It was a slow start to the race, and that helped me. This was only my second ever marathon, and I tried to maintain my pace. Coming up to the 35k mark I was getting tired, but I had some gel at the refreshment stall so I gained some energy."

Matui added: “I had been feeling unwell in the build-up to the race, so in the end I am happy with a bronze."

Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF

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