Wanjiru 1st Kenyan to Win Olympic Men's Marathon
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 23, 2008 10:12 PM CDT
Kenya's Samuel Kamau Wansiru celebrates winning the gold medal during the men's marathon, the last event of the athletics competitions finishing in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympics...   (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)
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(Newser) – Samuel Wanjiru pulled away over the final few kilometers to become the first Kenyan in the storied running history of that nation to win an Olympic marathon. The 21-year-old negotiated the 26.2-mile course through Beijing streets in bright Sunday morning sunshine in an Olympic record of 2 hours, 6 minutes, 32 seconds. This was just the third marathon for Wanjiru, who twice broke the world half-marathon record last year.

Two-time world champion Jaouad Gharib of Morocco won silver in 2:07.16. Ethiopian Tsegay Kebede, winner of this year's Paris Marathon, took the bronze in 2:10.00. Ethiopian Deriba Merga led much of the race but faded badly at the end to wind up fourth. Wanjiru won the Fukuoka International Marathon in Japan last December and was runner-up at the London Marathon in April. World record holder Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia decided not to run the race because of concerns about Beijing's notorious air pollution. But after an overnight thunderstorm, a glorious blue sky greeted the final day of these games.