Stefano Baldini takes second European marathon gold
Compared to the sensational marathon triumph of the German Ulrike Maisch, there was no such surprise in the men’s marathon race for gold one day later. On Sunday the big favourite won: Italian Stefano Baldini took the gold medal in 2:11:32 hours. The 35 year-old is now European Champion for the second time after 1998. It was a different story for the silver medal, since the Swiss Viktor Röthlin won it totally unexpected in 2:11:50 ahead of Spaniard Julio Rey (2:12:37).
„Everything was perfect for me on that day. It wasn’t easy to run with the head wind and the course wasn’t easy as well,” said Stefano Baldini, who was Olympic Marathon Champion two years ago in Athens. The Italian, who had opened a running shop where his Olympic gold medal is shown, already thinks about the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008. „Step by step I am planning for the Olympics 2008 because I want to defend my title there. This victory today was an important success for my career,” said Stefano Baldini. His victory today was almost an easy one for him. Although the men’s race had a better standard than the women’s the day before this European marathon still doesn’t have the quality of an Olympic or World Championships’ race at all. Also the fall marathons like Berlin, Chicago or New York will have a better standard because they will feature the strong African runners.
„I will decide later together with my coach if I will run a fall marathon,” said Stefano Baldini, who already won two bronze medals at world championships but wasn’t able yet to win a World Marathon Majors race in either Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago or New York. Due to regeneration the only possible fall race would bet he New York City Marathon on November 5th.
In a slow European championships marathon half way was passed in 65:44 minutes. The Portuguese, Italians and Spaniards ruled the scene in the lead – just Viktor Röthlin and the Finnish titleholder Janne Holmen, who finished seventh in 2:13:10 hours, were not from these countries of the 11 runners strong leading group.
During the race a duel in the deal developed between Baldini and Röthlin. „As the pace slowed down a bit I attacked at the 40 k mark,“ said Stefano Baldini. „I haven’t lost a gold medal here but won a silver,“ said Viktor Röthlin. The 31 year-old Swiss celebrated with his silver medal in Gothenburg his biggest success of his career. „It is unbelievable – I dreamt about winning silver the night before.“ A dream has come true for Viktor Röthlin.
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