By Omulo Okoth in London
They did not celebrate in their traditional style. Much as Abel Kirui tried to put up a strong face, he was obviously very disappointed.
Kenya’s world-renowned marathon runners ignominiously lost their grip on the race, which has brought fame to the home of Samuel Wanjiru and Paul Tergat.
Kirui, although twice world champion, was not expected to be the top Kenyan finisher at the London Olympics Games marathon race.
He scraped through with a silver in 2:08:27 behind Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich (2:08:01), who incidentally trains with the Kenyans in Iten and is managed by Dutchman Jos Hermes, who also manages Kirui. This was his second major marathon after finishing ninth in the World Championships in Daegu, Korea, in 2011.
Wilson Kipsang, the world’s second fastest marathon runner after countryman Patrick Makau, limped away with a bronze in 2:09:37.
Emmanuel Mutai, a late entrant in the team after Moses Mosop’s withdrawal, finished in 17th position in 2:14:10.
Kirui waited for Kipsang, but the hug was not gelling. Both were handed Kenyan flag at the finish by Peter Angwenyi, Team Kenya’s Media Liaison, but they just used it to wipe away their sweaty faces.
Happy with silver
“I thank God for the silver medal although we had expected to win both gold and silver. Kenyans should be contented with the silver and bronze because the race was very competitive,” said Kirui.
“We thought we had the race sewn up, only to be ambushed with two kilometres to go. However, hard we tried to chase him, we could not manage,” said Kirui.
“We thought we ran very well. We had good training in Iten. Other athletes (from other countries) are training hard and we cannot afford to be complacent,” he said.
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