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Obiri’s Olympics confidence boosted by Boston victory

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Hellen Obiri storms to victory at the Boston Marathon. PHOTO/World Athletics
  • Obiri won the Boston Marathon title for the second consecutive year
  • She is in Kenya’s provisional list for the Olympic Games
  • Ethiopia’s Sisay Lemma won the men’s race

Hellen Obiri believes her conquest at the Boston Marathon Monday night is a massive boost for her to claim a place in Kenya’s team for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Obiri retained her Boston crown, winning the race in 2:22:37, her third major marathon victory. She is in the preliminary list of five athletes for the Olympic Games, and Athletics Kenya is expected to whittle down this list to three for the Paris sojourn.

“I had to push myself because I knew that a win here would almost guarantee me a place to the Olympics. I really want to be at the Olympics and that is why I pushed myself really hard to win,” Obiri said after the race.

“I also saw that my family was here, my daughter and my husband were here too and I was like I needed to do something special for them,” added the multiple world champion.

Obiri put up a superb sprint in the final kilometre of the race to pull away from compatriot Sharon Lokedi and clinch bragging rights in the race.

“When I saw Sharon was there, I was like, yeah, this is going to be tough. I knew that I am better in the 400m and I was confident that she couldn’t beat me in a sprint. I kept going and when I felt I needed to sprint I did and I am really delighted with the victory,” said Obiri.

Lokedi came home second in 2:22:45, while the ever green 44-year old Edna Kiplagat finished in third place, clocking 2:23:21 for a Kenyan podium sweep in the race.

Obiri edges off a tight affair 


Hellen Obiri and Sissay Lemma with their Boston Marathon trophies. PHOTO/WM Majors/X

The women’s race was a tight affair, with a leading group of slightly over 15 athletes hurdling up together until after the 30km mark when the group started to break down.

The pace started to ramp up with about seven kilometres remaining. By 35km, reached in 2:00:48, the pack was down to 12 women with Obiri poised ominously near the front.

About six minutes later, Obiri, Lokedi and Kiplagat broke away to form a lead trio, leaving behind Ethiopia’s Workenesh Edesa. After another four minutes of running, two-time Boston winner Kiplagat, now aged 44, had been dropped, leaving Obiri and Lokedi out in front.

Soon after passing through 40km together in 2:15:54, Obiri broke away from Lokedi to begin her long drive from home. Lokedi never let Obiri too far out of her sights, but similarly struggled to get back on level terms with the two-time world 5000m champion.

Obiri, displaying the same finishing strength that has carried the 34-year-old to many major victories and medals, charged through the line for her second consecutive victory in Boston.

Meanwhile in the men’s race, Kenya’s defending champion Evans Chebet’s attempt to retain his crown wasn’t successful, as he finished third in a race won by Ethiopia Sisay Lemma, who put in a majorly individual piece of running to clinch the crown.

Ten men passed through the first 5km in 14:21, but that still wasn’t quite swift enough for Lemma, who increased his pace and started to pull away from the pack. He reached 10km in 28:28, by which point he already had a 25-second margin over an eight-man chase pack that included Chebet and Gabriel Geay – the top two finishers from last year.

Lemma shows grit and determination 

Sisay Lemma

Sisay Lemma of Ethiopia wins the Boston Marathon. PHOTO/World Athletics

The Ethiopian didn’t seem to tire as he picked up momentum in the course of the race, reaching the half marathon point in 1:00:19 – the fastest ever half-way split recorded in Boston – by which point the chase pack was down to five men: Chebet, Albert Korir, Cybrian Kotut, John Korir and Haftu Teklu, slightly above a minute and a half behind him.

But as he passed the 35km mark, the tough part of the race chewed down his energy. He made his way up Heartbreak Hill in 5:28 but his lead was starting to reduce as Chebet, John Korir, Albert Korir and Mohamed Esa ran together up the steepest section of the race.

From that point onwards, the chasers continued to reduce Lemma’s leading margin.

Despite his pace continuing to slip, Lemma’s lead proved too much for his opponents and he went on to cross the line in 2:06:17. The was some excitement further back, though, as the strong-finishing Esa went from fifth to second by the finish line, claiming the runner-up spot in 2:06:58.

Chebet, the defending champion, this time finished third in 2:07:22 – his fourth consecutive podium finish in a marathon major.

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