Nekatibeb too strong in final sprint

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 December, 2010, 12:00am

Ethiopia's Tekeste Nekatibeb staged a late burst of speed to win the Macau Galaxy Entertainment International Marathon on Taipa Island yesterday.

Nekatibeb crossed the finish line at the Macau Sports Stadium in two hours, 16 minutes and 15 seconds to post the sixth fastest time by a male athlete in the 29 years the popular race has been staged. He picked up US$15,000 for his win.

The tall Ethiopian stayed on the back of the lead group for the first half of the race, but then assumed control for the second circuit of the challenging but scenic 42.2-kilometre course.

Nekatibeb and Kenya's Stephen Chamlany broke away from the lead pack at the 35-kilometre mark to stage their own private duel for victory, and with both runners having clocked fast times already this year - 2:13:10 in April in Dalian for Chemlany, and 2:11:49 in October for Nekatibeb in Reims, France - it was always going to come down to a sprint finish.

'I knew that Stephen posted a fast time in China this year, but I knew that today was going to be my day,' said Nekatibeb, 29. 'My strategy to stay just off the pace on the first lap was certainly the right thing to do.'

Nekatibeb's sprint once inside the stadium quickly saw off the challenge of Chemlany, who finished second in 2:16:22. Kenya's Patrick Kipkemoi took the bronze medal in 2:16:38 to pick up a cheque for US$3,500. The first four men over the line also claimed a time bonus of US$3,000 for finishing inside 2:17.

Unheralded mainlander Wang Xueqin staged an upset in the women's race by clocking 2:37:37 to hold off the challenge of the invited runners. The diminutive Wang, who travelled from Dalian to compete in Macau for the first time, seemed unfazed by winning her first marathon in the former Portuguese enclave.

'I'd heard from friends that the course in Macau is challenging because of the bridge but that it's usually run in very good weather conditions. As such, my coach and I decided I should run the race this year,' said 20-year-old Wang, who like Nekatibeb took home a winner's cheque of US$15,000.

Kenya's Rose Kerubo placed second in the women's race with a time of 2:38:09, while Ethiopia's Buli Yenealem Ayano finished third in 2:39:32.