Ethiopian Gebreslase sets championship record in the women’s marathon and won gold

By Rek Hanibal Published on July 21, 2022
Ethiopian Gebreslase sets championship record in the women’s marathon and won gold

Bottom Gebreslase emulated the achievement of her Ethiopian teammate Tamirat Tola on Monday (18) as she won the women’s world marathon title in a championship record of 2:18:11 in Oregon.

The 27-year-old, who made her marathon debut with victory in Berlin last year, marked her championship debut at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 with a personal best time that bettered Paula Radcliffe’s mark of 2:20:57 at the 2005 Helsinki World Championships.

Her victory came after she broke clear of Kenya’s long-time leader Judith Korir in the final two kilometres, with the latter – also making her first championship appearance – also clocking a personal best of 2:18:20.

A year after she had dropped out of bronze medal contention at the Olympics in Sapporo, where she slumped to 66th after having to stop with cramps, Israel’s 33-year-old Lonah Salpeter was determined to make the global pedestal. She ensured that position after pulling clear of Eritrea’s Nazret Weldu after the two had run together for the last third of the race.

Salpeter clocked 2:20:18, with Weldu finishing in a national record of 2:20:29, followed by home runner Sara Hall, who finished in 2:22:10.

Gebreslase’s win came a day after Tola had broken away on a long run for home in the men’s marathon and won in 2:05:36, surpassing the championship record of 2:06.54 set by Kenya’s Abel Kirui at the 2009 edition in Berlin.

The women's race could be said to have fallen into two distinct parts – before and after the sudden departure of Kenya’s defending champion Ruth Chepngetich, who led a group of eight at a swift pace through to the 18km mark before making an unheralded departure with stomach problems.

That left her two relatively inexperienced fellow Kenyans, Korir and Angela Tanui, to combat the more heavily fancied Ethiopian trio of Gebreslase, Ababel Yeshaneh and Ashete Bekere.

As the lead group approached the end of the second of their three designated laps of the 14km course through Eugene and Springfield, with racing taking place in warm morning temperatures of around 14C, Korir – who won this year’s Paris Marathon in 2:19:54 – accelerated away on a sustained push.

Only Gebreslase, who won on her marathon debut in Berlin and clocked a personal best of 2:18.18 at last year’s Tokyo Marathon, went with Korir. The two ran together until the final kilometre when the Ethiopian made her big and decisive move.

Hall, a local, was all smiles after finishing a masterfully managed race that never quite took her within range of a medal.

She was swiftly joined on the line by her two teammates, Emma Bates, who finished seventh in a personal best of 2:23:18, and Keira D’Amato, who lowered the US record to 2:19:12 at the Houston Marathon in January and was called into the team at three weeks’ notice after Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist Molly Seidel had to withdraw with a hip injury. D’Amato was eighth in 2:23:34.

Rek Hanibal

Rek Hanibal

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