Eritrea’s Ghebreslassie is World marathon champion

Beijing, Aug 22 (IANS) Ghirmay Ghebreslassie from Eritrea beat the scorching morning sun and a late chase by Ethiopia’s Yemane Tsegay to win the men’s marathon at the World Athletics Championships here on Saturday.

The 19-year-old clocked two hours, 12 minutes and 27 seconds for his first world championship title, beating Tsegay into second place, reports Xinhua.

Tsegay, who had once overtaken Ghebreslassie in the last kilometers, timed 2:13.07 hours for silver with Munyo Solomon Mutai from Uganda taking bronze in 2:13:29 hours.

The world record holder, Kenyan Dennis Kimetto, dropped out late in the race.

“I can’t explain what I am feeling, I am so happy, a lot of people keep asking me about the fact that I am so young, but it does not matter to me, I am so proud of this victory,” he said after the race.

“I had decided to try to leave any group by the 34km mark,” he said of his pre-race strategy.

It was Eritrea’s second ever World Championships medal after Tadesse Zersenay’s 10,000 metres silver in Berlin in 2009.

“I am proud of this victory. It is a very special thing for our history”, he said.

The Beijing worlds’ first event took place under a crystal blue sky with the temperature registering 28 degrees centigrade. Ghebreslassie said the high temperature didn’t affect his run.

“I lived in the similar environment when I was a child, so the I did not have special preparation for this,” he said.

Ghebreslassie disclosed that he didn’t get much support from his family at the beginning of his career.

“My parents wanted me to be a college student, but I wanted to be a great athlete,” he said. “And the beginning, my coach thought I was not a gifted boy, but I found my potential when I was 11. Today’s victory will be a great surprise for them.”

Ghebreslassie is now looking to the Rio Olympic Games. “Although I am very young, I hope I could have great performance in Rio. It is a dream place for everyone,” he said.

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