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Paul Tergat smashes the world record

2003-09-28

Paul Tergat of Kenya made a quantum leap in marathon running when he clocked the first sub-2.05 in history, winning in Berlin this morning in 2.04.55. That takes all of 43 seconds off American Khalid Khannouchi's previous record of 2.05.38, set in London 2002, when Tergat was second in 2.05.48.

Paced by half a dozen compatriots, on a perfect day with temperatures ranging between 9 and 12 degrees centigrade, the 34 year old Kenyan was always on course for a new record. But, in the end it was a tight victory for the man who had not won in five previous starts. Tergat got away from his last pacemaker with a kilometre to go, but Sammy Korir closed fast in the final strides, and was only a second behind Tergat at the line, to take three and a half minutes off his previous best, and become the second member of a very elite club This is the third world record of Tergat's illustrious career. The elegant and personable Kenyan, who won five successive world cross country titles between 1995-9, set a 10,000 metres record of 26.27.85 in 1997, since broken by his great rival Haile Gebrselassie, and ran the current half-marathon record of 59.17 in Milan 1998. Tergat's run was extraordinary enough, but 40 year olds across to the world will rub their eyes at the feat of their peer, Andres Espinosa. The Mexican finished fourth, and took over two minutes off the veterans' or masters' record, with 2.08.46. The previous record was 2.11.04, by John Campbell of New Zealand.

Tergat, who won 120,000 euros, said he expected to break the record, but not by so much. "I knew deep in my head that one day I would get this world record, and today everything fell into place. It was a relief after training for so long. But I couldn't believe the time, I thought I could maybe do low 2.05, but 2.04 was fantastic".

This was another triumph for the Berlin organisers, whose superfast course has now yielded four world records in the last five years, since Ronaldo da Costa of Brazil cart-wheeled over the finish line in 2.06.05 in 1998. Tegla Loroupe of Kenya broke her own world record the following year, with 2.20.43, and that was improved to 2.19.46 in 2001, when Olympic champion Naoko Takahashi of Japan became the first sub-2.20 woman.

Yasuko Hashimoto made it four in a row for Japanese runners in the Berlin Marathon women's race this morning (Sunday), when she won in two hours, 26minutes, 32seconds (2.26.32). Hashimoto took over from long-time leader Alina Ivanova of Russia at 35 kilometres, and was never challenged again. In only her third marathon, Hashimoto improved her best from 2.29.37, set in Nagoya earlier this year.

There was a tight finish in the men's wheelchair race between the two giants of the sport - Joel Jeannot of France prevailing in the last 100 metres over Heinz Frei of Switzerland.

MEN 1 Paul TERGAT KENYA 2.04.55 WORLD RECORD (Previous record, 2.05.38 Khalid Kannouchi USA, London 2002) 2 Sammy KORIR KENYA 2.04.56 3 Titus MUNJI KENYA 2.06.15 4 Andres ESPINOSA MEXICO 2.08.46 WORLD MASTERS REC 5 Raymond KIPKOECH KENYA 2.09.22 6 Kazuhira MATSUDA JAPAN 2.09.50 7 Kurao UMEKI JAPAN 2.09.52 8 Andre RAMOS BRAZIL 2.09.59 9 Makhosonke FIKA S AFRICA 2.10.16 10 Javier CABALLERO SPAIN 2.10.44


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