By Nick Butler |
Lemi Berhanu and Aselefech Mergia secured an Ethiopian double at the Dubai Marathon, but compatriot Kenenisa Bekele’s bid to continue his road running rise faltered after he failed to finish the gruelling 26.2 mile tester.
Bekele, the three-time Olympic champion who remains the world record holder over both 5,000 and 10,000 metres on the track, was forced to withdraw after 30 kilometres with what was reportedly an Achilles tendon injury.
It now throws into doubt his participation in April’s London Marathon, where the 32-year-old is scheduled to compete against a plethora of top Kenyans including world record holder Dennis Kimetto.
Following his withdrawal, unheralded team mate Berhanu eases to a surprise victory in 2 hours, 5min 2sec to edge out Lelisa Desisa and Deribe Robi by 50 and 64 seconds respectively in an Ethiopian clean sweep.
While Berhanu’s win marked a breakthrough, female champion Mergia secured her third win in Dubai, after also crossing the line first in the 2011 and 2012 editions.
The 30-year-old won in 2:20:02 to edge out Kenya’s Gladys Cherono by a single second in a thrilling finish, while another Kenya, Lucy Wangui, came third in 2:20:21.
“I told myself after having my daughter that I could win a marathon again,” the winner said afterwards.
“We used the prize money from my first two wins in Dubai to begin building a hotel back home, now we’ll be able to complete the job.”Both winners receive $200,000 (£133,000/€178,000) in prize money, the largest prize in the world for a single marathon, while the second placed finishers each receive $80,000 (£53,000/€71,000).Contact the writer of this story at email@example.com