President Kenyatta leads elite athletes and Kenyans in celebrating London Marathon winners
President Uhuru Kenyatta joined Kenya’s sports men and women in congratulating freshly minted London Marathon Champions Mary Keitany, the world’s women-only marathon record holder and Daniel Wanjiru for their exemplary performances at the English capital on Sunday April 23rd.
Keitany shed off 41 seconds off Paula Radcliffe’s 12 year record of 2:17.42 to clinch the women’s title as the second fastest woman in history. Ethiopian three time Olympics and five time World champion in the tracks, Tirunesh Dibaba, tried to close the big gap between her and Keitany but stopped the timer at 2:17.56 for second place. Her compatriot Aselefech Mergia (2:23:08) denied Rio 2016 Olympics 5,000m gold and 10,000m silver medalist Vivian Cheruiyot (2:23:50) her first marathon podium finish.
Immediately after her historic victory, athletics enthusiast took on social media to congratulate Keitany for bringing the women’s world record to the country to spice up Dennis Kimetto’s men’s record of 2:02:57.
” I congratulate Mary Keitany for her #LondonMarathon win and for breaking the women-only marathon World Record! You have made Kenya proud.” the President wrote on his official Twitter account.
On the athletes’ side, Olympic 800m champion and world record holder in the 800m ‘King’ David Rudisha, first Kenyan to win the London marathon Douglas ‘the great’ Wakiihuri, former 1,500m Olympics champion and three-time world champion Asbel Kiprop, Two time world and the newly crowned Boston marathon champion Edna Kiplagat, Richard Mateelong a retired a former Olympics 3,000m steeplechase bronze medalist, Olympian Besty Saina and Edna Rotich a Volleyball left attacker, are among the host of big names to send a message in celebrating Keitany and men’s champion Daniel Wanjiru.
“#MaryKeitany’ for superb running in #LondonMarathon we are proud of you as a country #Kenya.” Said Rudisha, the men’s 800m double Olympics and double World title holder.
“Great day for Kenya!” Wakiihuri said.
“London Marathon the best Marathon to watch! Tai ole tai v/s Motir ole hoi. (which means forward always).” Kiprop posted on his Facebook page.
“Congratulations to Mary for World Record and Wanjiru for winning it on men’s race. Team Kenya bravo!!!” wrote Kiplagat as she watched her colleagues from the Kenya Police Service rule London with her friends in Eldoret, Usain Gishu County.
“From the beginning it was an astonishing pace no one could survive that Pongezi (congratulations) Keitany . Good job Wanjiru, big ups for him.” Said Mateelong, the 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze medalist.
Former Seoul Marathon champion Jason Mbote and coach to Daniel Wanjiru the men’s marathon champion is keeping his fingers crossed as he hopes Athletics Kenya (AK) selectors will give Wanjiru a slot in Team Kenya for the IAAF World Championships slated for August 3-13 in London.
“I’m still recovering from yesterday’s (Sunday) excitement. I lost my voice because of the cheering as I watched Wanjiru cut the tape. He has really motivated the rest of the athletes in camp at Kirinyaga and they want to shine brighter than him in their careers.
“Him winning the London marathon, a race that has one of the richest field means Wanjiru can post a good performance at the World Championships and even at the Olympics. He is a person to watch on the course” Asserted Mbote.
Wanjiru was able to hold off track legend and the fastest man on course Kenneisa Bekele to take the men’s top podium place in 2:05:49 just 27 seconds off his 2:05:21 personal best. Bekele who tried to pull a fast one on Wanjiru at the homestretch settled for second place in 2:05:57. IAAF World Half marathon Championships silver medalist, Bedan Karoki had a good day in office to stop the clock at 2:07:45 for third place on his debut.
“I’m very happy for my win. To be honest it was not an easy race but we tried our very best. We helped each other from the start and that’s how I was able to take the title. In every race or competition there must be a winner. I had prepared myself very well even as I was leaving the country, I had planned myself to win this race and that was my main target, ” Wanjiru told Citizen Digital from London.
Meanwhile, former Olympics marathon silver and two-time World champion Abel Kirui hopes that the AK selectors will consider giving him a slot to represent the country in August as he eyes a third world title. Kirui clocked 2:07:45 for fourth place.
“All will be well if I’m selected for the London Championships, but so far so good because the field was very competitive and I finished as the third Kenyan though I was overall fourth.
“I know the selectors are having a hard time on who to select because Kenyan athletes are really performing well out there. If I get the chance it will be well and good, but if I don’t, I will wish all those who will make it inTeam Kenya will have an exemplary performance by God’s grace and prepare to defend my Chicago title.” Kirui said after the race.
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