Geoffrey Kirui struck Kenya’s first gold medal at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London on Sunday.
The men’s marathon event winner edged an enthralling see-saw battle with Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola to clock home 2:08:27, 1 minute 22 seconds ahead of his rival.
Tanzania’s Alphonse Simbu came in third, two seconds adrift of Tola in 2:09.41.
With this victory, Geoffrey Kirui has extended Kenya’s record as the most successful nation in the history of this event at the global athletics competition.
The former Boston marathon winner fought hard to come from behind to pass Tola in the final quarter of the race.
Tola, who was the fastest in the field with his season’s best of 2:04.11, led the field through the halfway point. He was accompanied by Kenya’s contingent at the event; Kirui, Kipketer, and Wanjiru who was a couple of seconds behind.
Tola opened a gap of around 20m over his Kenyan rival Kirui who looked destined to settle for a silver medal with the pace being projected to a finishing time of around 2hr 10min.
The Ethiopian held his position for about three-quarters through the race before he began to wilt away. Kirui then found his way back into the lead by the 35-kilometre mark and did not look back.
“I feared the Ethiopian because he had such a fast time, so I just followed my plan to 35K and then felt my body to see how I was doing,” Kirui said.
“Good for me it responded well.”
Kirui went on to become the fifth gold medallist from Kenya in the marathon and also get his nation’s first men’s marathon title since 2011.
He looked buoyant in the final stretch, giving the thumbs up and slapping the hands of fans before crossing the line.
The race was, however, not kind to the other Kenyan runners with only Kipketer being able to contest for a podium finish Simbu seeing him out for the bronze medal.