Abebe Bikila 1960, 64& Feyisa Lilesa 2016

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Haile’s Olympic hopes in tatters as Kipyego wins Tokyo Marathon

TOKYO: Kenya’s Michael Kipyego tore up the script to win the Tokyo Marathon with former world record holder Haile Gebrselassie left floundering in fourth position yesterday.

The former 3000m steeplechase specialist Kipyego clocked a winning time of 2’07:37 in chilly conditions for his first marathon victory.

Gebrselassie broke away from last year’s winner Hailu Mekonnen before the 36km mark but Kipyego powered past the fading Ethiopian with around four kilometres to go.

Surprise victor: Michael Kipyego of Kenya crossing the finish line to win the Tokyo Marathon men’s title yesterday. – EPA

The result leaves Gebrselassie’s Olympic hopes in doubt after three Ethiopians ran below two 2’05:00 in the Dubai Marathon last month.

Gebrselassie finished in a disappointing time of 2’08:17 after targeting a sub-2’05:00 run to boost his chances of securing a spot on the Ethiopia team for this year’s London Olympics.

The 38–year–old twice Olympic and four–time 10,000m gold medallist, however, vowed to fight on.

“I could run another marathon in two weeks,” a defiant Gebrselassie told reporters. “I felt fantastic for the first 30km but then I had some problems at the end of the race.

“The last 5km was the worst I’ve ever run,” added the Ethiopian, who lost his world record to Kenyan Patrick Makau (2’03:38) five months ago in Berlin.

Gebrselassie’s previous record stood at 2’03:59.

He has had his struggles in recent marathons, failing to finish the 2010 New York City Marathon and pulling out of Tokyo last year after injuring himself in training.

Japan’s Arata Fujiwara boosted his chances of making his country’s Olympic squad by finishing runner-up in 2’07:48 after passing Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich in the final stretch.

Kipyego could hardly believe he had stolen the thunder of the man dubbed the “Emperor”.

“Today I won but you can never compare anyone with Haile,” the 28–year–old Kipyego added. “He’s the king of the marathon. I salute him.”

In the women’s race, Atsede Habtamu of Ethiopia overtook front-running Eri Okubo of Japan after passing the 39km mark to win in 2’25:28.

Her compatriot, Yeshi Esayias, was second in 2’26:00, followed by Helena Loshanyang Kirop of Kenya in 2’26:02. Okubo finished fourth place in 2’26:08. – Agencies

London Olympics 2012: Ethiopia's former world marathan record holder Haile Gebrselassie could miss Games - Telegraph

London Olympics 2012: Ethiopia's former world marathan record holder Haile Gebrselassie could miss Games
Running out of time: Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia is escorted by a volunteer after finishing fourth in the men's race of the Tokyo Marathon Photo: AP

The former world record holder had entered the Japanese race to achieve the required Olympic qualifying standard of 2hr 15min and to run quickly enough to secure his place in the three-man Ethiopian team for London.

But his time of 2hr 8min 17sec means he is only the 14th fastest Ethiopian over 26.2 miles this year, while three of his countrymen ran under 2hr 5min at last month’s Dubai Marathon — performances that would make them medal contenders in London.

It raises the possibility that fans lining London’s streets this summer will be denied the chance to see one of the true legends of the sport, whose record includes two Olympic 10,000 metres gold medals, four world 10,000m titles, nine marathon victories and the distinction of being the first man in history to run a sub-2hr 4min marathon.

Given Ethiopia’s fierce rivalry with neighbouring Kenya, currently the dominant force in marathon running, it is unlikely there will be any room for sentiment in the Ethiopian selectors' deliberations, which means Gebrselassie’s dream of an Olympic swansong may require him to run another marathon in the spring.

With a mere five or six weeks’ recovery time, that would be a tall order for any athlete let alone a 38 year-old whose body has shown signs of wear and tear in recent years, though it was something he did not discount after yesterday’s race.

“I could run another marathon in two weeks,” he said. “I felt fantastic here for the first 30 kilometres, then had some problems at the end of the race.

“Sometimes you are too ambitious. This can happen. My target was 2-05 today but it didn’t work out that way. On the last downhill, I started to get some pain in my back. The last 5km was the worst I’ve ever run.”

Gebrselassie had led the race with three miles to go before he was caught by Kenyan Michael Kipyego, who surged ahead to win in 2-07-37. He was also overtaken by Japan’s Arata Fujiwara and Ugandan Stephen Kiprotich.

Kipyego could hardly believe he had upstaged the great Ethiopian, saying: “I won but you can never compare anyone with Haile. He’s the king of the marathon. I salute him.”

But Gebrselessie’s reign already looks over after a race that provided further evidence of his diminishing powers.

In November 2010, he failed to finish the New York Marathon after being troubled by a knee problem and at a tearful press conference afterwards he announced to the world that he was quitting the sport.

That decision was swiftly reversed, though he was forced to withdraw from last year’s Tokyo Marathon through illness and then he failed to finish the Berlin Marathon last September after developing breathing problems.

The loss of his status as the world’s greatest marathon runner was underlined in the German capital as Kenya’s Patrick Makau triumphed in a world record of 2-03-38, obliterating Gebrselassie’s previous mark of 2-03-59.

Should Gebrselassie consider a final throw of the dice by running a spring marathon to secure an Olympic spot, it is highly unlikely he will choose the Virgin London Marathon on April 22.

He suffers from acute hay fever and has said previously that he would never again run in London in the spring after the high pollen count in 2007 provoked a strong allergic reaction and forced him to pull out mid-race.

Athletics-Kipyego triumphs in Tokyo, Gebrselassie flops | Reuters

* Gebrselassie defiant after disappointing display (Adds quotes, detail)

By Alastair Himmer

TOKYO, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Kenya's Michael Kipyego tore up the script to win the Tokyo Marathon with former world record holder Haile Gebrselassie left floundering in fourth on Sunday.

The former 3000m steeplechase specialist Kipyego clocked a winning time of two hours, seven minutes and 37 seconds in chilly conditions for his first marathon victory.

Gebrselassie broke away from last year's winner Hailu Mekonnen before the 36-kilometre mark but Kipyego powered past the fading Ethiopian with around four kilometres to go.

The result leaves Gebrselassie's Olympic hopes in doubt after three Ethiopians ran below two hours and five minutes in the Dubai Marathon last month.

Gebrselassie finished in a disappointing time of 2:08:17 after targeting a sub-2:05 run to boost his chances of securing a spot on the Ethiopia team for this year's London Games.

The 38-year-old twice Olympic and four-times 10,000 metres gold medallist, however, vowed to fight on.

"I could run another marathon in two weeks," a defiant Gebrselassie told reporters. "I felt fantastic for the first 30 kilometers but then I had some problems at the end of the race.

"The last 5km was the worst I've ever run," added the Ethiopian, who lost his world record to Kenyan Patrick Makau (2:03:38) five months ago in Berlin.

Gebrselassie's previous record stood at 2:03:59.

He has had his struggles in recent marathons, failing to finish the 2010 New York City Marathon and pulling out of Tokyo last year after injuring himself in training.

Japan's Arata Fujiwara boosted his chances of making his country's Olympic squad by finishing runner-up in 2:07:48 after passing Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich in the final stretch.

Kipyego could hardly believe he had stolen the thunder of the man dubbed the "Emperor".

"Today I won but you can never compare anyone with Haile," the 28-year-old Kipyego added. "He's the king of the marathon. I salute him."

(Editing by John O'Brien)

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Prof. Muse Tegegne has lectured sociology Change &  Liberation  in Europe, Africa and Americas. He has obtained  Doctorat es Science from the University of Geneva.   A PhD in Developmental Studies & ND in Natural Therapies.  He wrote on the  problematic of  the Horn of  Africa extensively. He Speaks Amharic, Tigergna, Hebrew, English, French. He has a good comprehension of Arabic, Spanish and Italian.