It was a moment to forget for Kenyans as 2017 world marathon silver medalist Tamirat Tola led a 1-2 Ethiopian sweep in men’s World Championships showdown in Oregon, USA, yesterday.
Tola, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, broke away with killer pace mid-way through the race even as Kenyans in two-time New York Marathon winner Geoffrey Kamworor and Barnaba Kiptum, third at the Milan Marathon this year, formed the chasing pack that had Belgium’s Bashir Abdi, Ethiopia’s Mosinet Geremew and Cameron Levins of Canada.
He opened a 200-metre gap as he approached the 35km mark and sustained the pace to win in 2:05.35 -breaking the championship record of 2:06.54 set at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.
Geremew (2:06:44) and Abdi (2:06.48) settled for silver and bronze medals as Levins (2:07.49) and Kamworor (2:07.49) followed. Kiptum faded to a distant 15th in 2:08.59.
Kamworor, whose career was hampered in June 2020 when he was hit by a motorbike during a training session and underwent surgery on a broken tibia, was contesting his first major championship marathon in Oregon
The only time Kenya’s marathon men wound up World Championships without a medal was in 2013 in Moscow and 2015 in Beijing.
Geofreey Kirui is the last Kenyan to win gold in this event at the 2017 London world championships. The race shaped up when Shumi Dechasa from Bahrain and Uganda Fred Musobo led the pack through the 21km in one two minutes with no one showing a serious surge into the front including Kamworor, Kiptum, Ethiopian duo of Tura and Tola of Ethiopia as well as Gallen Rupp of USA.
Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, the defending champion, appeared to drift after the half way mark before Tola made a decisive move to break away from the leading pack with eight kilometres to go.
Kamworor kept close tabs alongside Bashir Abdi from Belgium, Levins before running out of gas. Geremew made a desperate chase.
Kenya’s hope to grab a medal faded away when Kamworor started falling back.