Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 23 August 2015





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

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 extravaganza.

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 finalsurge.

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 season.

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," added Cooray.

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.


Daily News & Sunday Observer subscriptions
Daily News & Sunday Observer subscriptions
eMobile Adz

| News | Editorial | Finance | Features | Political | Security | Sports | Spectrum | World | Obituaries | Junior |


Produced by Lake House Copyright © 2015 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

Comments and suggestions to : Web Editor