Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya became the first world champion of the IAAF World Athletics Championships when she claimed the gold medal of women’s marathon on Saturday.
The top-ranked Chepngetich was the favourite and expectedly won the event clocking 2:32:43 under sweltering heat and humidity. The dramatic event, that began at 11:59 pm local time on Friday, was held on a floodlit course running alongside Doha’s waterfront Corniche.
Chepngetich claimed victory around 2:30 am local time ahead of defending champion Rose Chelimo (2:33:46) of Bahrain who took silver while Helalia Johannes (2:34:15) of Namibia claimed bronze.
“I am feeling good. I am very happy and I thank God for my win.” Asked about the conditions, she responded: “It was not bad for me!” Chepngetich said after her win.
The heat forced several runners dropping out 23 of the 68 starters failing to finish the race.
World champion race walker Yohann Diniz had blasted the officials for the venue chosen for the runners saying it’s not possible to compete outside the Khalifa Stadium. “I am disgusted by the conditions,” the 41-year-old had said. “They take us for idiots. If we were in the stadium we would have normal conditions, between 24-25 degrees, but outside they have placed us in a furnace, which is just not possible.”
In the other highlight of the day, Guinea-Bissau’s Braima Suncar Dabo helped his opponent cross the finishing line in the 5000-meter event. Aruba’s Jonathan Busby was exhausted ran out of steam looking all set to drop out when he found support from the most unlikely of quarters – his rival Dabo.
Dabo, after realising that Busby was struggling, he stopped to lend his competitor a helping hand, guiding him cross the final 200m and drawing roaring support from the crowd. “I just wanted to help the guy finish the race,” Dabo, 26, said afterwards through a translator. “I wanted to help him cross the line. I think anyone in that situation would have done the same thing.”