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Kenyan Wansiru Wins Men's Marathon in Olympic Record
    2008-08-24 09:58:46     Xinhua

Samuel Kamau Wansiru of Kenya wins men's marathon gold at 2:06:32 at the Beijing Olympic Games on Sunday morning, August 24, 2008. [Photo: Xinhua]

Samuel Kamau Wansiru won the men's marathon, the final event of the Beijing Games track and field sports, with a perfect performance at the long-distance running on Sunday.

As a powerhouse in long distance running, Kenya had never won a marathon in the Olympic history before.

"In Kenya, we have many medals, but I'm glad to have this one. It feels good to make history here. It feels good to make history for Kenya and win the gold," said Wanrisu, who only made his marathon debut last year

After dominated the distance running in the Bird's Nest, the 21-year-old Kenyan won the 42.15-kilometers race through the Beijing's steets in bright morning sunshine for Africa in a time of two hours six minutes and 32 seconds, breaking the Olympic record set by Carlos Lopes of Portugal at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles by two minutes 49 seconds.

Along with compatriot Martin Lel, Wanjiru launched a fast pace in the first five kilometres which limited the leading group down to just eight and reduced the pack to five after they ran through the halfway mark in a very quick 1:02.34.

After 35 kilometers, Wanjiru took the lead alone and ran into the Bird's Nest by himself to huge cheers. He waved to the crowd and clapped as he ran his final lap.

"I had to push the pace to tire the other runners, I had to push the pace because my body gets tired in the heat when I slow down," said Wanrisu, "With six kilometres left, I tried to push. It was hard, but they didn't keep up."

"From the start I wanted to push my best, but I had to save myself for later in the race. In the heat, it was hard to do, the humidity made it hard and I just wanted to finish,"

"My plan was to push the limits, push my body. Now I am very happy with my pace," he added.

Jaouad Gharib of Morocco finished second, also broke the previous Olympic record, in a time of two hours seven minutes and 16 seconds, while Tsegay Kebede of Ethiopia won the bronze in 2:10:00.

Gebrselassie, the Ethiopian who set the world record of 2:04:26 last September in Berlin, took part in the men's 10,000 meters race but withdrew from the Olympic marathon.

"For now, I want to relax, but I want to get better and do it again next time. My next goal is to get the world record, maybe next year," said Wanrisu.

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