Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chicago Marathon 2012: The first Ethiopian man to ever win the Chicago Marathon

Tsegaye Kebede the first Ethiopian man to ever win the Chicago Marathon
Tsegaye Kebede put a resounding stomp on the Kenyan’s dreams of continued dominance. David Banks/Getty Images
For the past nine years the Kenyans owned the Chicago Marathon, but with wins in both the men’s and women’s sides, the Ethiopians swept the table in the Windy City.
The victories by both sides were monumental, as the last sweep came in 2001 by none other than the Kenyans.
Capturing first meant more than just pride for men’s winner Tsegaye Kebede—it broke history.
Kebede became the first Ethiopian man to ever win the Chicago Marathon, setting a new record with a time of 2:04:38.
Although just 25 years old, Kebede isn’t new to the game. Sunday’s winner earned a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics and another bronze at the World Championships in Berlin in ’09.
While the Chicago Marathon doesn’t receive worldwide attention like the Olympics, Kebede’s accomplishment deserves tremendous praise. The 25-year-old superstar runner wasn’t the favorite, yet still managed to not only beat some of Kenya’s best in Wesley Korir and Sammy Kitwara, but also lead a trio of his fellow countrymen in placing first, second and third.
For a country that always finished behind Kenya, breaking the streak, the course record and keeping the Kenyans out of the top three spots makes the victory taste that much sweeter.
Kebede’s fantastic finish encapsulated an all-around day of joy for Ethiopia as Atsede Baysa pulled off the ultimate upset by beating three-time repeating champion Liliya Shobukhova.
Although she easily outpaced the reigning champ, Baysa’s victory was just inches away from being a narrow defeat. Kenyan Rita Jeptoo nearly edged out Baysa for the win before the Ethiopian sealed the deal.
In sweeping the field for the first time in over a decade, Ethiopia proved it’s a force to be reckoned with across the world.
As if his Olympic experience wasn’t enough, Kebede proved he’s still a world-class athlete capable of running with anyone.
Baysa’s resounding win put an end to Shobukhova’s potentially historic feat, leaving us to wonder just how much more she is capable of.
Setting records is satisfying for an individual, but winning for your nation is the ultimate prize.
Sunday was Ethiopia’s day, and by the looks of it, it may only be a small step in the race for world dominance.
by Stephen Sheehan

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