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Kenya rules in marathon, Kirui takes gold


Latest update : 2009-08-22

Kenyan Abel Kirui won the men's marathon world title in 2.06:54 on Saturday in Berlin, while compatriot Emmanuel Mutai took silver after a run of 2.07:48. Kirui says he now has his eye on Haile Gebrselassie's world record time of 2.03:59.

AFP - Abel Kirui led compatriot Emmanuel Mutai to a Kenyan one-two in the men's marathon at the World Athletics Championships on Saturday.
Kirui clocked a championship record of 2hr 06min 54sec around the picturesque course in central Berlin, ahead of Mutai (2.07:48) with Ethiopia's Olympic bronze medallist Tsegay Kebede finishing in third (2.08:35).
It was only the second marathon victory after Vienna last year for the 27-year-old Kirui who finished second behind Haile Gebrselassie during the Ethiopian's then-world record run in the 2007 Berlin Marathon.
Kirui, brother of fellow marathoner Mike Rotich, was also appearing in a Kenyan singlet for the first-ever time, having chosen to compete in Berlin over an appearance in the Chicago Marathon.
He said that he was now targeting Gebrselassie's world record time of 2.03:59.
"I'm very happy," Kirui said. "I've had some great races in Berlin.
"I was determined to be champion at one time in my life. It's a lesson, it's not easy but everyone can make it.
"Now I will prepare for the world record, total committment in training. My aim is to run 2.03:30 in the near future, between now and next year."
Kirui and Mutai both praised the course, which involved a looped course, but Kebede was not so keen.
"It was very difficult, there were lots of turns and early on I suffered from a stitch," the Ethiopian said.
"I came here hoping to win. But it was very warm with the race being run at midday. I've not really trained in this heat because it is the rainy season in my country."
In the absence of world record holder Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia, Kenya's Olympic champion Samuel Wanjiru, Morocco's two-time world champion Jaouad Gharib and Kenya's defending champion Luke Kibet, the race was wide open.
The field remained tight until the 16km mark when Kebede attacked and strung out the pack. But he was soon reeled in.
By kilometre 27, a five-strong lead group had broken clear - the Kenyan trio of Mutai, Kirui and Robet Cheruiyot, Ethiopian Deriba Merga and Rwandan Dieudonne Disi.
A wobbly Disi suddenly came to a halt, however, to take a breather. He managed to continue a short distance further before stopping altogether and being helped off the course.
Kebede and compatriot Deressa Chimsa kept up their chase on the breakaway quartet around the sun-baked course which included cobbled streets in and around the Brandenburg Gate.
After 1:35 of the race, four-time Boston Marathon winner Cheruiyot fell off the pace.
And by the 35th kilometre 10 minutes later Mutai and Kirui built up a decisive lead over Merga, who finished fourth at the Beijing Games but has this season won both the Boston and Houston marathons.
With 5km remaining Kirui edged away from Mutai and built up a lead of 100 metres.
"Always in a marathon, between 35-38km is the crucial stage," Kirui said.
The 24-year-old Mutai, who only has one previous marathon podium finish to his name - when he won the Amsterdam Marathon in 2007, managed to finish the course despite being physically sick as he ran the final kilometre.

Date created : 2009-08-22