Jemima Sumgong became the first Kenyan woman to win the Olympics marathon title at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, just a year on from narrowly missing a medal at the World Championships in Beijing.
Sumgong, who won the London Marathon this year, bidded her time throughout the race, staying with the leading pack and opting not to move into the lead until the final stages.
The Kenyan waited until the final three kilometres to make her decisive move, shaking off the challenge of two of the women who finished ahead of her in Beijing 2015 to win in 2:24:04.
Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa, born in Kenyan but now competing for Bahrain, took silver in 2:24:13 and Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba secured the bronze medal in 2:24:30.
Ethiopia’s Tirfi Tsegaye held off Belarusian Volha Mazuronak, who shook up the pack halfway through the race, taking the lead and briefly pulling ahead of the lead group, for fourth in 2:24:47.
Mazuronak was ultimately unable to sustain the pace in the closing stages settled for fifth in 2:24:48.
Jemima Sumgong is only the third Kenyan woman to become an Olympic champion, following wins on the track at the 2008 Beijing Games for Pamela Jelimo (800m) and Nancy Jebet Langat (1,500m).
“I was in Beijing but I was pretty disappointed that I wasn’t able to win a medal or make it on the podium,” said Sumgong after the race. “But I knew one time, one day, I’d be somewhere. I’m so happy. I feel extremely proud.
“I was never worried that I’d lose this,” Sumgong said. “At 40km, I knew the gold was mine. At 35km, I noticed that my other two team-mates had dropped off, and that gave me the motivation to carry on.
“At 40km, I saw there were three of us, but I knew whatever happened, I couldn’t lose the gold and then I knew I was on the way to history,” she said.