Teenager Ghebreselassie wins marathon world title

Fri Aug 21, 2015 11:11pm EDT
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By Nick Mulvenney

BEIJING (Reuters) - Eritrean teenager Ghirmay Ghebreselassie became the youngest ever marathon world champion when he stunned a strong field of fellow East Africans to win the first title of the Beijing championships on Saturday.

The 19-year-old eased clear of the field over the final six kilometers and crossed the line in two hours, 12 minutes and 27 seconds to claim a first world championships gold medal for his country.

"I cannot explain what I am feeling, I am so happy," he told reporters.

"I am so proud of this victory. My medal is the first gold medal in Eritrean history. It is a very special thing for our history.

"My parents wanted me to be a great student but I wanted to be a great athlete. Today's victory will be a great surprise to them."

Ethiopian Yemane Tsegay, who led briefly before Ghebreselassie's final surge, finished 40 seconds behind the Eritrean in second place, while Uganda's Solomon Mutai claimed bronze in 2.13.29.

Ruggero Pertile of Italy, who led for much of the middle part of the race, finished fourth, while Uganda's Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich gave up the world title he won two years ago from sixth place.

After an early morning start to mitigate the effects of the Beijing summer heat, Tsegay and Bahraini Shumi Dechasa set the pace in the early stages as the runners passed the sights of central Beijing.   Continued...