Kenya's long wait for a first Olympic marathon gold ended on Sunday when Sammy Wanjiru defied the heat of Beijing to triumph in an Olympic record two hours, six minutes, 32 seconds.
The 21-year-old was in the leading pack from the start, setting a fierce pace that quickly saw his opponents start to drop off, before making his decisive break soon after the 35km mark.
Morocco's Jaouad Gharib took silver in 2:07.16, with Tsegaye Kebede catching exhausted Ethiopian compatriot Deriba Merga on the final lap inside the Bird's Nest for bronze.
- Tirunesh Dibaba broke the 10km Olympics record
& won the gold medal. 8/15/2008
Kenenisa took the gold in 10km & 5km, and broke the Olympic record in each race.
T. Dibaba became the first woman to win the 5km & 10km races at
the same Olympics. 8/22/2008
- Kenenisa Bekele broke the 10km Olympics record & won the gold.
Sileshi took the silver. 8/17/08
Featured Oromo Olympian
Fatuma Roba - Olympic Medal: Gold at the 1996 /Atlanta/ Women's
Born in 1973 and raised in the village of Bokeji in Ethiopia's mountainous southern region
- also home to internationally known 10K champion
Tulu - Fatuma Roba, the first African woman to ever win an Olympic marathon, was one of seven children born to a farming couple who raised and herded cattle. Like most children growing up in rural Africa, if she wanted to go somewhere, the quickest way to get there was to run. The daily run to and from her school
- much of it going up and down hills - trained the young Roba in the art of sprinting. As a child her hero was 1960 and 1964 Olympic marathon champion
Abebe Bikila, a fellow Ethiopian. After completing school, the five-foot-five-inch Roba decided to train to become a police officer after her performance at a national cross-country championship caught the attention of members of the Addis Ababa prison police athletic team.
Roba first gained an international profile in 1990 when at age 18 she placed fourth in the 3,000 meter and 10K competition during the African Championships. Three years later she decided to attempt the 26.2-mile marathon distance in her home town of Addis Ababa, and had reached a personal best time of 2 hours 35 minutes 25 seconds by 1995. Roba continued to reduce her marathon time throughout the spring of 1996, helped along by the coaching of Yilma Berta. To train to excel at the 26.2-mile marathon distance, the 22-year-old Roba logged an average of 125 miles a week, most of it at high altitude, thereby forcing her body to use its resources of oxygen efficiently. She ran and won two marathons early in 1996, the first in January at Marakech and the second in Rome, Italy, two months later.
When Roba joined the field of the 1996 Olympic women's marathon in Atlanta, Georgia, in July of 1996, she was ranked only 29th among the elite women athletes assembled there. Surprising almost all onlookers of that years' Summer Games, she managed consistent five-minute miles, gained the lead by mile 13, and left behind Japanese runner Yuko Arimori, who had won the silver at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. At mile 19 timers clocked her race pace at 5:21; relaxed and alert, Roba waved as she passed, the crowds cheering on the first woman in the pack. She went on to cross the line in 2:26:05, her lead a remarkable two minutes. "This is not only a special thing for me but also for my country and all African women," Roba was quoted as commenting by Amanda Mays in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
"The Ethiopian women are coming up in the marathon. This was the
breakthrough and now we are ready to challenge the others." Source
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