Athletics: Kenyans make light of bad weather to celebrate double

The bookies knew best, as they so often do. Their favourite for the men's London Marathon title, Evans Rutto, duly won yesterday in a time of 2hr 06min 18sec - remarkable given the cold and increasingly rainy conditions in which the race took place.

The bookies knew best, as they so often do. Their favourite for the men's London Marathon title, Evans Rutto, duly won yesterday in a time of 2hr 06min 18sec - remarkable given the cold and increasingly rainy conditions in which the race took place.

The Kenyan thus maintained his 100 per cent marathon record, having won his only previous race, in Chicago last October, in 2:05.50, the fastest debut ever recorded.

It completed a satisfying day for the Kenyans, who had also supplied the women's winner, Margaret Okayo, who finished almost four minutes clear in 2:22.35, and had the further gratification of seeing their perennial Ethiopian rivals lose their two top runners before either race had reached the halfway point.

Gete Wami, the former world 10,000m champion running only her second marathon, dropped out after 13 miles, and defending men's champion Gezahegne Abera lasted only six miles before limping to the side of Trafalgar Road with an Achilles tendon problem brought on by hitting his leg on the curb. "This will in no way puncture my ambition of making it at the Olympics," Abera maintained.

Rutto's victory was all the more creditable for the fact that he and the man with whom he broke away from the rest of the field after 21 miles, fellow countryman Sammy Korir, suffered a heavy fall while approaching Tower Bridge a mile later. In negotiating a sharp left-hand turn, Rutto appeared to catch his foot on a barrier and slid into the man who finished just a second behind Paul Tergat's world-record effort in Berlin last year, recording 2:04.56.

Korir was the first man to get up, and he waited for Rutto to get to his feet before setting off again - a pleasing moment of sportsmanship.

But it was Rutto who pulled away on the Embankment in the 23rd mile to earn a victory which may make Kenya's Olympic selectors, who have not named him for the marathon, think again. "But for the fall and bad conditions I might have run better," Rutto said. "I don't say I would have broken the world record, but it was a possibility."

In the absence of the defending champion Paula Radcliffe, who was watching the race, Okayo established her credentials as an Olympic contender despite misjudging the early part of her race, when she set off too quickly over the first five miles only to see Romania's Constantina Dita overtake her.

Okayo may be tiny - 4ft 11in and six and a half stone - but her will was clearly huge as she overhauled the Romanian within sight of the 20-mile marker.

LONDON MARATHON RESULTS

MEN

1 E Rutto (Ken) 2hr 06min 18sec, 2 S Korir (Ken) 2:06:48, 3 J Gharib (Mor) 2:07:02, 4 S Baldini (Ita) 2:08:37, 5 T Tola (Eth) 2:09:07, 6 B Zwierzhiewski (Fra) 2:09:35, 7 A El Mouaziz (Mor) 2:09:42, 8 L Troop (Aus) 2:09:58, 9 J Yuda (Tan) 2:10:13, 10 J Kadan (Ken) 2:11:30, 11 J Mgolepus (Ken) 2:12:02, 12 W Tiplagat (Ken) 2:12:04, 13 S Bezebeh (Aus) 2:12:05, 14 S Westcott (Aus) 2:13:30, 15 J Brown (Sheffield) 2:13:39, 16 D Robinson (Tipton) 2:13:53, 17 N Pollias (Gre) 2:15:02, 18 C Cariss (Bingley) 2:15:08, 19 H Lobb (Bedford) 2:15:49, 20 M Hudspith (Morpeth) 2:16:15, 21 B Burns (Salford) 2:16:18.

WOMEN

1 M Okayo (Ken) 2:22:25, 2 L Petrova (Rus) 2:26:02, 3 C Tomescu-Dita (Rom) 2:26:52, 4 Albina Ivanova (Rus) 2:27:25, 5 J Chepchumba (Ken) 2:28:01, 6 S Zakharova (Rus) 2:28:10, 7 S Yingjie (Chn) 2:28:32, 8 Alena Ivanova (Rus) 2:28:48, 9 S Demidenko (Rus) 2:33:06, 10 T Morris (Valley Striders) 2:33:52, 11 B Dagne (Belgrave) 2:34:45, 12 J Gallagher (Aus) 2:34:48, 13 J Lodge (Windsor) 2:34:49, 14 M Lee (M Keynes) 2:35:51, 15 S Harrison (Leamington) 2:38:20, 16 M McCullum (Can) 2:39:10, 17 M Yamauchi (Harrow) 2:39:16, 18 S Souma (Gre) 2:40:34, 19 V Young (Irl) 2:41:32, 20 S Partridge (Glasgow) 2:41:44.

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