Kirui, Chelimo win marathon gold at world championships

 07 Aug 2017 - 2:45

Kirui, Chelimo win marathon gold at world championships
From left: Silver medallist Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola, gold medallist Kenya’s Geoffrey Kipkorir Kirui and bronze medallist Tanzania’s Alphonce Felix Simbu take part in a medal ceremony after the men’s marathon athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London, yesterday.

By Raf Casert / Associated Press

LONDON:  With some iconic London landmarks serving as a backdrop, the world championships produced a pair of stirring marathon races on Sunday.

Both Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya and Rose Chelimo of Bahrain came from behind to win gold medals on Tower Bridge.

Kirui earned Kenya a record fifth men's marathon title in the morning by beating Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia in a seesaw race. Then, the Kenyan-born Chelimo and Edna Kiplagat produced a similar back-and-forth contest in the afternoon to give the diminutive runner her first major international title.

Along the scenic River Thames and passing by sights including Saint Paul's Cathedral and the London Eye, big crowds were on hand to underscore the mass appeal of the championships in the British capital.

Kirui had to come from behind to pass Tola in the final quarter of the race. And once he got through the winding streets of London, Kirui found the way clear for a victorious run over the last miles.

Kirui won in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 27 seconds, creating such a gap over Tola that he had time to slap the outstretched hands of fans in the finishing straight before crossing the line. Tola weakened at the end and just held off bronze medalist Alphonce Simbu of Tanzania.

Tola first shook off Kirui about three-quarters through the race but overestimated his strength. Slowly, the Kenyan came back and took over the lead by the 35-kilometer mark.

"I feared the Ethiopian because he had such a fast time, so I just followed my plan to 35K and then felt my body to see how I was doing," Kirui said. "Good for me it responded well."

Kirui, who won the Boston Marathon in April, got his nation its first men's marathon title since 2011.

In the women's race, Chelimo chased down Kiplagat over the final miles to win the biggest title of her career.

She kicked on the uphill stretch to the finish and Kiplagat could not respond. Chelimo finished in 2:27:11, seven seconds ahead of Kiplagat, who barely beat a hard-charging Amy Cragg of the United States for silver.

In the Olympic Stadium, Usain Bolt got the early cheers in the evening session. Justin Gatlin got the boos — again.

At the medal ceremony for Saturday's 100 meters, Bolt received massive applause for his bronze medal and American silver medalist Christian Coleman was also warmly greeted by the crowd of about 60,000 spectators.

However, when Gatlin came up to receive his gold medal from IAAF President Sebastian Coe, the derisive booing returned but there was also a smattering of applause — some of it from Bolt. The negative intensity didn't quite reach the peaks of the previous days when Gatlin ran.

With his doping past — his suspension ended in 2010 — the American has long been portrayed as the bad guy set against Bolt's charismatic, fun-loving personality.

In the women's 100, Olympic champion Elaine Thompson set the top time in the semifinals.

Thompson won her heat in 10.84 seconds. Rosangela Santos of Brazil was second in a South American record of 10.91.

After Gatlin beat Bolt to get the United States first on the board in the great U.S.-Jamaican sprint rivalry, it will be up to Thompson to get even. The Americans have only one runner in Sunday's final, Tori Bowie. She won her heat in 10.91.

In the first heat, Marie-Josee Ta Lou of Ivory Coast finished in 10.87 to advance along with Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands.

Earlier, Nafi Thiam extended her lead with a strong showing in the javelin, the penultimate event in the heptathlon.

With only the 800-meter race to go later Sunday, the Olympic champion has 5,980 points, 172 more than Carolin Schaefer of Germany.

If Thiam gets around the two laps of the track without a serious incident, she should be able to add the world title to her Olympic gold.

Anouk Vetter of the Netherlands set a huge javelin mark of 58.41 meters to move into bronze medal position overall. Thiam was second with a throw of 53.93.

In the men's 110-meter hurdles, medal contender Ronald Levy of Jamaica failed to make it into the semifinals after clipping the first hurdle with his trailing leg.

Aries Merritt of the United States, who won the Olympic title in London five years ago, easily went through with a top time of 13.16 seconds, .07 seconds ahead of reigning Olympic champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica.

Other finals on Sunday are the women's marathon, 100 meters and pole vault, and the men's shot put.

After the Americans went 1-2 in the men's 100 meters with Justin Gatlin taking gold and reducing Usain Bolt to bronze, Olympic champion Elaine Thompson will be seeking to get one back for Jamaica. Tori Bowie leads the U.S. challenge.

The U.S. team could well win more medals with Ryan Crouser favored to add the world title to his Olympic shot put gold.