Cooray flops as teenager wins Eritrea's first-ever gold
Puts the blame on hot weather for his poor showing:
BEIJING, Aug. 22 - Teenager Ghirmay Ghebreslassie of Eritrea stunned
the athletics world with a record-breaking performance to win the gold
medal in the men's marathon while Sri Lanka's Anuradha Indrajith Cooray
secured only the 29th place at the 15th IAAF World Championship which
began here on Saturday.
Ghebreslassie who turns 20 in November, beat a strong field of
seasoned campaigners, mainly from Kenya and Ethiopia, to win the men's
marathon gold medal, the first on offer during the nine-day athletics
Anuradha Indrajith Cooray
He clocked two hours, 12 minutes and 28 seconds to become the first
Eritrean to win a gold medal in the 32-year-old IAAF World Championship
history. It was Eritrea's second world championship medal after Zersenay
Tadesse's 10,000m silver in Berlin 2009.
Veteran Sri Lanka marathon runner Cooray was nowhere near his
brilliant best to clock an unimpressive 2:25.04, well behind his Sri
Lanka record of 2:13.47 registered at 2015 London Marathon last April..
Had Cooray improved on his Sri Lanka mark, he could well have become a
strong contender for the bronze medal as Ghebreslassie's closest rivals
Yemane Tsegaye (Ethiopia) and Munyo Solomon Mutai (Ghana) settled for
the second and third places respectively.
Tsegaye, who finished second at the 2015 Boston Marathon,had a
season's best 2:13.08 to win the silver, ahead of bronze medallist Mutai
(2:13.30). Tsegay led in the race briefly before Ghebreslassie's
The excessive morning heat and humid conditions did not allow most of
the 48 runners who came under the starter's orders this morning to go
for better championship timings as 26of them failed to reach the finish
line. Cooray said running in burning hot sunny weather was a big
challenge that prevented him from lowering his own Sri Lanka mark.
"There was a terrible pain in my shoulders and arms due to adverse
weather but I kept going to complete the race," he said.
Eritreas Ghirmay Ghebreslassie competes in the final of the
mens marathon athletics event at the 2015 IAAF World
Championships at the ”Birds Nest” National Stadium in
Beijing on August 22, 2015. AFP
The withdrawal of Cooray's Kenyan training partners - Dennis Kipruto
Kimetto and Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich was classic proof of unfavourable
weather conditions. Kimetto holds the world record of 2:02.57 for his
feat in Berlin last year while Olympic bronze medallist Wilson Kipsang
held the marathon world record before Kimetto.
Yet,the Kenyan duo was forced to withdraw midway during the race."It
was a pity that the hot weather conditions shattered our goals. But I
will continue to make every effort to further improve on my timing," the
London-based 37-year-oldveteran long distance runner said.
Asked what his future plans would be, Cooray said he will first fly
to Sri Lanka to see his parents before taking wing to Kenya for further
training."After a week-long stay in Sri Lanka, I will get back in
London. Thereafter, I will go to Kenya to resume my training, aiming at
the Frankfurt Marathon. I need to run in one more major event this
The Amsterdam Marathon will come in two weeks time but the gap is to
too short.. Hence, I opted for the Frankfurt Marathon as there is a
nine-week period for me to stage a comeback," a determined Cooray said.
The pre-event predictions turned totally inaccurate as Kenya's dream of
a clean sweep in the men's marathon was completely shattered.
"Even from the early stages of the race, we were badly hit by
excessive heat and the Kenyan duo told me that they were pulling out.
But I did not give up and wanted to complete the race for my country,"
Ghebreslassie not only became the youngest ever men's marathon winner
in the 32-year-old IAAF World Championship but also the first gold
medallist for his country. "My parents wanted me to be a great student
but I wanted to be a great athlete. Today's victory will be a great
surprise to them," the new world champion who stunned a strong field of
fellow East Africans said.
The Eritrean eased clear of the field over the final six kilo metres
to cross the line in style. "I just cannot explain how I feel now. I am
so happy, so proud of this victory, first-ever gold medal forEritrea in
World Championship. It is a very special moment," said Ghebreslassie.