Helah Kiprop refused to be downhearted despite being denied gold by a mere second after 42.195km of the women’s marathon, as Ethiopia claimed the title for the first time through pre-race favourite Mare Dibaba. Dibaba (no relation to her compatriot and namesake Genzebe) had set the fastest time of the year, also in China, when coming home victorious in Xiamen) and won what came down to a 100-metre sprint, with Kiprop second and former Kenyan runner Eunice Kerwa, now representing Bahrain, a further three seconds back in third.
Kiprop’s two team-mates: Jemima Sumgong and Edna Kiplogat, who was bidding for a straight hat-trick in the event, came next with a larger gap to the rest of the 52 finishers.
“This is my first (world) championship and first medal and I didn’t expect it,” Kiprop said after completing the course in 2 hours, 27 minutes and 32 seconds, over three minutes outside her best time (2:24.03) set while again finishing runner-up in Tokyo back in February of this year.
“It was exciting when I came into the stadium and knew I had a chance.” Kirwa moved onto Dibaba’s shoulder as the four leading protagonists entered the Bird’s Nest Stadium but by the time they moved off of tarmac and onto the running track it was Kiprop applying the pressure, with Sumgong fading.
But Dibaba, who also once ‘defected’ for a while before returning to represent the country of her birth, held firm for victory, so denying Kenya a hat-trick after Kiplagat’s wins in Moscow 2013 and Daegu 2011.
“It was cooler today but still very humid but that was not a problem for me as I train in India sometimes because the weather is very similar,” Kiprop pointed out.
Sumgong finished fourth, an agonising 3 seconds away from a medal. Kiplagat ended over a minute and a half off of the winner, while Kenya’s fourth competitor Visiline Jepkesho came home 20th. “I raced in lane nine in the semis and I qualified.