Wanjiru gives Kenya marathon gold at last

Society Materials 24 August 2008 06:59 (UTC +04:00)

Samuel Wanjiru shook off his last rivals in the closing stages on Sunday to claim the first men's Olympic marathon gold for the proud running nation Kenya, at Beijing Games.

Wanjiro, 21, used the final lap in the Bird's Nest stadium as a lap of honour and waved his way down the home stretch for victory in 2 hours 6 minutes 32 seconds, the dpa reported.

Two-time world champion Jaouad Gharib of Morocco took the silver in 2:07:15 hours and Tsegay Kebede of Ethiopia grabbed bronze in 2:10.00.

Going into the race, the marathon was the only long distance event in which Kenyans had not yet won a gold medal.

Wanjiro was no complete outsider as he had finished second at the London Marathon earlier this year.

The winning time was fast given the quickly rising temperatures on a sunny day in the 42.195-kilometres race from Tiananmen Square past several Beijing landmarks to the stadium.

Marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie did not compete, saying he was worried about Beijing's pollution. The Ethiopian ran the 10,000m instead and finished sixth there.