LONDON – Tiki Gelana, gritting her teeth and pumping her arms, became the second Ethiopian woman to win Olympic marathon gold when she held off Kenyan Priscah Jeptoo to win a soggy race that started and finished in torrential rain on Sunday.
Gelana clocked two hours 23 minutes and seven seconds in a course taking in numerous iconic London landmarks, finishing five seconds ahead of Jeptoo who was unable to reel in her African rival in the finishing straight on The Mall.
Gelana, the niece of Sydney 200O men’s marathon champion Gezhagne Abera, celebrated by draping herself in an Ethiopian flag and embracing her supporters.
Russian Tatyana Petrova Arkhipova won bronze in 2:23:29 but there was disappointment for race favourite Mary Keitany of Kenya.
The twice London marathon winner was in the leading group of four with around three kilometres left but dropped out of contention to finish fourth, 49 seconds behind Gelana.
Gelana, 24, who set a national record of 2:18:58 to win in Rotterdam this year, followed in the footsteps of compatriot Fatuma Roba who triumphed in 1996 in Atlanta.
Kenya swept the medals at the 2011 worlds, in which Jeptoo took silver behind Edna Kiplagat, but a Kenyan woman has still never won Olympic gold in the marathon.
Kiplagat was a disappointing 20th on Sunday.