x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Ugandan springs a surprise result on Kenyans in marathon

Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich stunned a strong Kenyan team to win the men's Olympic marathon; Qieyang Shenjie took a bronze in race walk for Tibet's first ever Olympic medal; Russia completes a fightback to take volleyball gold.

Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich celebrates with his national flag after winning the men's marathon in two hours, 08.01 seconds.
Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich celebrates with his national flag after winning the men's marathon in two hours, 08.01 seconds.

 

Kiprotich holds on to defeat the favoured Kenyan runners

Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich stunned a strong Kenyan team to win the men's Olympic marathon yesterday, handing his east African nation only their second ever gold medal.

Kiprotich timed two hours, 08.01 seconds, with the two-time defending world champion Abel Kirui claiming silver in 2:08.27.

Another Kenyan, the long-time leader Wilson Kipsang, took bronze in 2:09.37.

It was Uganda's second gold medal after John Akii-Bua won the 400m hurdles in the 1972 Games in Munich, with the east African country's only other medal a bronze from the 400m runner Davis Kamonga in 1996.

"The pace was too fast, and I knew I could not run away from them so I just had to keep up with them [Kipsang and Kirui]," Kiprotich said. "I tried to settle and then I had to break away because I wanted to win this medal."

Brazil's Franck De Almeida went through 10km in 30:38 in a race billed as a battle between Kenya and Ethiopia.

But the Ethiopian team's tactics were dealt an early blow with Dino Sefir falling well off the pace, as Kipsang reeled in the Brazilian pace setter.

Kipsang, the 2012 London Marathon winner then built up a lead on the chasing pack, going through the halfway mark in 1:03.15, 16 seconds ahead of the other runners. In front of thousands of spectators packed 10-deep in some places, Kiprotich set off in pursuit of Kipsang, splintering the pack in the hunt for a podium place.

Kirui and Ethiopia's Dubai marathon winner Ayele Abshero followed, and the trio cut Kipsang's lead to just 11 seconds, and then pulled level at 25km.

Abshero struggled to stay level and dropped 36 seconds by the 30km stage, Brazil's Marilson Dos Santos overtaking him into fourth.

With seven kilometres to go, the Kenyans tried to shake off Kiprotich, but they were caught napping as Kiprotich showed a dramatic change of pace to surge to the front in an audacious ambush at 32km, and was quickly 200m ahead.

Kiprotich, who has moved to the famed Eldoret region of the Kenya's Rift Valley to train with the former world 5,000m champion Eliud Kipchoge, accelerated away, a brief look back over his shoulder confirming his position at the head of the field.

Going into the final two kilometres, the 23-year-old Ugandan was 20 seconds ahead of Kirui, and he had enough time to grab a Ugandan flag on his last time entering the Mall, in the shadow of Buckingham Palace, draping it around his shoulders as he crossed the line for a convincing victory.

 

Race walk bronze the first medal for Tibet

A former yak herder who did not even see the Olympic Games on television until 2008 is enjoying the limelight of becoming the first ever Tibetan medallist.

Qieyang Shenjie, who grew up riding horses on the Tibetan plateau, prompted jubilation with her 20km race walk bronze medal in London.

“They [coaches] have been so good to me. This is the way how I paid them off. I am so grateful,” she said.

The 21 year old was sent to a specialist sports school as a teenager after she won a local marathon.

Her training in preparation for the event required her to walk 19 miles a day.

 

Brazil wilts in final to Russia in men's volleyball

Russia saved two match points as they came from two sets down to beat Brazil, the world champions, 3-2 in the men’s volleyball final yesterday.

Russia looked down and out at two sets to love and 22-19 down in the third, but with the title just three points away, Brazil collapsed.

Vladimir Alenko, the Russian coach, could barely believe it.

He was so stunned that he had to call upon Russian literature to explain his feelings, citing a character from The Twelve Chairs.

“It’s ‘idiot’s dream’ coming true. They say you can’t enter the same river for the second time, but I tried it,” he said, referring to Russia’s poor showing in Beijing.

The wing spiker Sergey Tetyukhin praised his team for their character.

“It’s hard for me to speak. Emotions are overwhelming me. It was a hard match,” he said.

“I think that those people that did not believe in us, they turned their back and went away after the second set, but those who trusted, they are the most valuable.”

Brazil twice had match-point in the third, at 24-23 and 25-24, but could not convert.

Led by Dmitriy Muserskiy, Russia battled their way to a 29-27 success in the third and then pulled out a 22-15 lead in the fourth before taking that 25-22.

Brazil’s game was riddled with mistakes at this point and they kept multiplying.

Bernardo, the Brazil coach, immediately turned his attentions to the next Games.

“We go home with [a bitter] flavour in our mouths but I am also so proud of the team, we can just look to Rio,” he said.

“I feel sorry and frustrated. The first three sets were good. We could have won the match but the fourth set went away. We didn’t manage to follow the rhythm. We’ve lacked tranquillity, now we have to think about 2016.”

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