Mon, Apr 23, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Lel, Zhou win in London Marathon

AP , LONDON

Martin Lel won the men's race at the London Marathon yesterday, outsprinting three others to the finish, and Zhou Chunxiu (周春秀) became the first Chinese winner by taking the women's title.

Lel, who also won the London race in 2005, finished in 2 hours, 7 minutes, 41 seconds.

Abderrahim Goumri of Morocco finished second in his marathon debut in 2:07:44 and last year's champion Felix Limo was third in 2:07:47. Lel lost to Limo in a sprint finish last year.

Haile Gebrselassie, one of the greatest distance runners of all time, withdrew after about 30km.

The main pack for much of the race also included world record holder Paul Tergat, former winner Khalid Khannouchi, Olympic gold medalist Stefano Baldini and world champion Jaouad Gharib.

Ryan Hall, a US runner making his marathon debut, joined up with the leaders and was the first man past the 35km mark, along with Gharib, Lel, Hendrick Ramaala, Tergat, Marilson Gomes dos Santos, Limo and Goumri.

But he fell back soon after and it was down to a four-man sprint finish.

Gebrselassie pulled out while holding his chest, then leaned over the barrier.

"I had a stitch here," Gebrselassie said. "I could not continue. I don't know why. I'm not injured. I couldn't breathe. I didn't know what was going wrong. It's not the heat. Maybe something I ate wrong."

Gebrselassie, who won the Berlin Marathon last year, finished ninth in London last year and third in his marathon debut in 2002.

Zhou broke away with about 5km to go in the women's race, leaving Gete Wami and Lornah Kiplagat behind before sprinting up the final straight on The Mall to win in 2:20:38.

Wami was second in 2:21:45 and Constantina Tomescu-Dita was third in 2:23:55. Salina Kosgei of Kenya was fourth, with Kiplagat finishing in fifth.

Zhou is the first Chinese runner -- man or woman -- to win one of the World Marathon Majors, which consist of the marathons in Boston, London, New York, Chicago and Berlin.

Zhou, Berhane Adere, Kiplagat and Wami were in the main group at the halfway point, completing the first 20km in 1:06:18.

Tomescu-Dita had dropped back around the 22km mark. Australian contender Benita Johnson also ran with the main group until 17km.

Adere, who was last year's Chicago Marathon champion, was the next runner to fall off the pace, dropping back shortly after 25km, leaving Kiplagat leading Zhou and Wami up front, with the pacemaker pulling out soon afterward.

The three ran together until Zhou's breakaway.

This was 28-year-old Zhou's third marathon outside Asia. She finished fifth at the 2005 world championships in Helsinki, Finland, and 33rd at the 2004 Olympics.

Last year, Zhou claimed a victory in the marathon event at the Asian Games in Doha.

The 27th edition of the London race was run under sunny skies, with a temperature of 18oC when the race began at 9am.

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