LONDON, England (AP) — Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia dodged rivals and rain drops on her way to winning the women’s Olympic marathon in record time today.
Drenched from head to toe, she soaked up the moment as she crossed the finish line, raising her hands high in the air to celebrate. Gelana navigated the wet streets in an Olympic record time of 2 hours, 23.07 seconds to hold off Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya by five seconds. The previous mark was 2:23.14, set by Naoko Takahashi of Japan in Sydney in 2000.
Tatyana Petrova Arkhipova of Russia captured the bronze in a race that began in heavy rain, saw the sun briefly come out and ended in another downpour.
Typical London weather.
Gelana hardly minded the dreary conditions as she slipped and slid her way to the victory.
“I love running in the rain. I have been doing that since I was a small child,” Gelana said. “I slipped in the middle of the race and my elbow is still injured. But I didn’t feel any pain during the race.”
There were four runners in a bunched pack over the last three miles. But with the finish line around the bend, Gelana made her move, grimacing as she surged to the front. With the rain picking up intensity — going from a light drizzle to a deluge — she kept glancing over her shoulder to see if Jeptoo was gaining ground.
No one could catch Gelana as she easily coasted across the line to win the biggest race of her life.
While these were actually favourable running conditions — not too hot — quite a few runners dropped out of the race.
Liliya Shobukhova of Russia — a top contender — stopped halfway through the race with a right leg ailment, while British runner Mara Yamauchi’s day was ended about five miles into the competition because of a bruised heel.