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Rio 2016: Sumgong Overcomes Rio’s Harsh Summer Heat to Win Kenya’s First Gold

“It was a race of attrition and about who could hold and leave enough. Sumgong dominated that race mentally as well as physically,” offered the women’s marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe according to BBC Sport.

Jemima Sumgong made history by becoming the first Kenyan woman to finish first in an Olympic marathon at the Rio 2016 Olympic games. Sumgong defeated Eunice Kirwa of Bahrain (also of Kenyan descent who switched allegiances) and Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia at the Sambodromo with a time of 2:24:04.

Kirwa and Dibaba finished second and third in 2:24:13 and 2:24:30 respectively. In the fourth position was another African from Ethiopia, Tirfi Tsegaye who finished in 2:24:47.

In what is dubbed as one of the hottest and humid marathon races of the Olympics characterized by temperatures of up to 80 degrees, Sumgong advanced past Kirwa and Dibaba in the final stages of the mile.

The Kenyan 2016 Olympics gold medallist who is also a previous winner in the London marathon earlier this year, brushed off the scorching heat that had some of the marathon runners pulling out of the race.

The Rio marathon which took its route of origin at the Sambodromo, an attractive setting usually set for Rio’s Carnival parade.

The growing impact of the heat was evident as some runners’ dropped out of the race. Even Ethiopia’s other hopeful Tigist Tufa, the 2015 London marathon champion fell out of the contest within 18 kilometres of the marathon.

“I was never worried that I’d lose this,” said Sumgong after the race.

“At 40 kilometres I knew the gold was mine. At 35km I noticed that my other two team-mates had dropped off, and that gave me the motivation to carry on.

“At 40km I saw there were three of us, but I knew whatever happened I couldn’t lose the gold and then I knew I was on the way to history.”


Featured Photo: Jemima Sumgong leads the way to Kenya’s first Olympic Gold Win (Adrian Dennis / AFP/Getty Images)

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