Tamirat Tola. This image was downloaded from the Facebook page of the 2022 World Athletics Championship and is being used here for representation purpose. No copyright infringement intended.

Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia won the men’s marathon at the 2022 World Athletics Championship, covering the distance in a new championship record of two hours, five minutes and 36 seconds.

His compatriot Mosinet Geremew (2:06:44), who took silver, completed the Ethiopian domination of the podium. The bronze went to Bashir Abdi (2: 06: 48) of Belgium.

In its report, Runner’s World attributed Tola’s performance to “ blasting the stretch between 30K and 40K in 28:27.’’ The move helped him put a significant gap between himself and the rest of the lead pack. The previous championship record (2:06:54) was held by Abel Kirui of Kenya; it was set in Berlin in 2009.

Following the race at the 2022 world championship, World Athletics reported on its website that it had been a dream come true for Tola. “ I learned from my mistake in 2017 (World Championships) and I made sure it did not happen again. ” On that occasion, Tola’s attempted run for home 10km from the end was thwarted as Kenya’s Geoffrey Kirui overtook him to win gold. This time there was no faltering on the 30-year-old Ethiopian’s part,” the report said.

It added, “ By the 34km marker his lead was seven seconds. At 35km it was 12 seconds, at 36km it was 17 seconds and at 37km it was 26 seconds. With 5km to go, the gold was gone and the drama of the race resided in which of the chasing group of four – Abdi, Geremew, Levins and Kamworor – would share the podium.’’

In the past, Tola had finished second in the men’s marathon at the 2017 world championships held in London. In March 2022, he had placed third in the annual Tokyo Marathon and prior to that, won the 2021 TCS Amsterdam Marathon. Geremew owns the third fastest time yet in the marathon; 2:02:55, set at the 2019 London Marathon. No stranger to India, he was twice winner – in 2014 and 2015 – of the TCS World 10K held every year in Bengaluru.  Abdi, who is originally from Somalia, had earlier won the bronze medal in the men’s marathon, at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Finishing just after Basher Abdi at the 2022 world championship in Eugene, was Cameron Levins of Canada. He earned a new national record of 2:07:09. At the Tokyo Olympics held in 2021, he had finished 72nd in the men’s marathon. The highest ranked Kenyan athlete in the men’s marathon in Eugene was Geoffrey Kamworor. He covered the distance in 2:07:14 to place fifth. Among American runners in the men’s marathon at Eugene, Galen Rupp was the first one home in 2:09:37. He placed nineteenth. A highly ranked runner in the US, Rupp had earlier won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and subsequently finished eighth at the Olympic Games in Tokyo (the marathon was held in Sapporo).

As per results available on the website of World Athletics, the top ten finishers in the men’s marathon at Eugene included three athletes from Ethiopia and one each from Canada, Kenya, Tanzania, Brazil, Bahrain and Zimbabwe. A notable DNF was well known Ethiopian long-distance runner, Lelisa Desisa (a past winner of the annual marathons in Boston and New York, in 2011, he was winner of the Delhi Half Marathon).

(The author, Shyam G Menon, is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)

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