Eldoret went into frenzy when Jemima Sumgong won the first ever Olympic gold medal in women marathon at the ongoing Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as former world half record holder Mary Keitany was full of praise for proper execution of gold.
The reigning London marathon champion faced a tough Kenyan born Turn Bahrain international Eunice Kirwa who is her neighbour in Nandi county with the later winning silver in the 42km race.
Christened as city of champions, Eldoret welcomed the gold in style after fans had gathered in various joints. The celebrations did not just end at the indoors but flocked to the streets charting gold, which was the first gold for Kenya since the games started a week ago in the Brazilian capital.
Big screen erected within Eldoret’s Central Business District, served thousands of fans who had gathered to watch the race live from Brazil. Sumgong, coming from Nandi County, was also lauded by Mary Keitany who was on a reserve team but did not travel as she prepares to defend her New York City Marathon later in the year.
She said Sumgong’s win has opened the door for Kenyans to start winning gold in subsequent Olympic Games. “The race was great, not just for Sumgong but the rest of us as Kenyan runners.
This was a door of opportunity for Kenyan women runners at the global scenes and I hope her win has inspired many women runners in the country especially in Marathon,” said keitany who watched the event live in Mororia village in Elgeyo Marakwet County.
She added that despite running under high temperature, she executed the move that ashamed the world. “Winning an Olympics gold in such showpiece earns Kenya and her total respect in road running.
In future, marathoners will be looking upon her as an inspiration. That show of might is a good lesson,” said Keitany who teamed up with Paris marathon champion Visiline Jepkesho and world silver medalist Helah Kiprop.
Sumgong, who ran at Olympics for the first time cut the tape first followed by her Neighbour Kirwa (now a Bahrain) for silver while world champion Mare Dibaba settled for bronze.
Her coach based at Dr. Rosa Associati David Letting said the history making came at the right time as there were doubts over the selection. “She has proved her worth in Brazil. As a coach and mentor, she did the best for not just for her but the whole nation winning the first gold. She is the door opener and due to that, she deserves better treatment when she comes back in the country,” said Letting.
Her win brought to a total of three medals-two silver and gold. Paul Tanui and Vivian Cheruiyot scooped silver in 10,000m in men and women races respectively. Tanui lost the race to defending champion No Farah from Britain while Cheruiyot lost to Ethiopian Almaz Ayana who broke the world record in the 25 lap race.
At the same time, long wait will continue for Kenyan runners to win gold in 10,000m, that was last won by Naftali Temo in 1968 Olympic games.