Kiplagat leads Kenya marathon sweep at Daegu worlds

DAEGU, South Korea - Edna Ngeringwony Kiplagat of Kenya took the first gold medal of the World Championships in the women's marathon in this South Korean city on Saturday morning, by clocking 2:28.43 hours.

Her Kenyan teammate Priscah Jeptoo took the silver, 17 seconds behind Kiplagat. Sharon Jemutai Cherop, also from Kenya, took the bronze by clocking 2:29.14, which is her personal season best.


Edna Kiplagat of Kenya celebrates winning the women's marathon final at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu August 27, 2011.

The winner's timing is far poorer than the world record of 2:15.25, which was created by former British runner Radcliffe Paula in London in 2003. It was also poorer than Kiplagat's personal best of 2:20.46, which she achieved at last November's ING New York City Marathon.

The timing partly resulted from the sweltering conditions in Daegu, though the weather was much cooler on Saturday than previous days.

The three Kenyan runners began their collective hunt for the medals after running some 35 kilometers togather with other competitors, and since then they continued their lead all the way to the finish line.

Bezunesh Bekele from Ethiopia, Africa's another formidable athletics power, ranked the fourth by clocking 2:29.21. Japan's Yukiko Akaba was the fifth.

Zhu Xiaolin of China was the sixth by clocking 2:29.58. Her teammate Wang Jiali ranked the eighth by running 2:30.25. Another Chinese runner Chen Rong was the 11th. ( The Chinese team ranked the second, by clocking 7:31.34 hours collectively, after Kenya's 7:26.57. Such performance by the Chinese runners was better, if not much better, than expectations since China had fielded a team without defending world champion Bai Xue and Zhou Chunxiu.

Bai Xue snatched the gold at the Berlin World Championships in 2009 by surprise, while Zhou took the gold medal at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha and won the silver medal at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka.

Zhu told Xinhua at the finish line that she was satisfied with the mark.


Edna Kiplagat of Kenya holds up her gold medal after winning the women's marathon final at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu August 27, 2011.

"My goal is better than the eighth place. Today's timing gives me more confidence. I wish I can enter the London Olympics, and could have better performance there," she said, admitting there is some gap between her and world's top runners like those from Kenya.

Zhu said the weather in Daegu is a bit sweltering so that better results are unlikely.

Gao Shijun, a coach with the Chinese marathon team, was also pleased with the team's results.

"Our runners have basically met our target. After all, the Chinese team lags behind strong teams such as Kenya. ... since some team members debut the marathon race internationally here in Daegu," he said.


Edna Kiplagat of Kenya (R) celebrates winnng the women's marathon with teammates, second-placed Priscah Jeptoo (2nd L) and Sharon Cherop (2nd R), as fourth-placed Bezunesh Bekele of Ethiopia (L) walks behind them, at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu August 27, 2011.


Edna Kiplagat of Kenya reacts after winning the women's marathon final at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu August 27, 2011.