15 Aug

First Women’s Marathon Gold Medal For Kenya

Aly Dixon and Sonia Samuels at Rio 2016

Jemima Sumgong won the gold medal in the women’s marathon, becoming the first Kenyan woman to do so. This was the first of two examples of female empowerment…

The African nations dominate at this distance and Sunday's race (14 August) was no exception with a strong showing from the outset.

However, there were outstanding performances from the Americans, in particular Shalane Flanagan who finished in sixth place overall: and (pictured right) two British girls, Alyson Dixon (Sunderland Strollers) and Sonia Samuels (Sale Harriers) who made their way steadily up the field, eventually finishing 28th (2:34:11) and 30th (2:34:36) respectively.  An impressive display in a world-class field.  
A field of 157 lined up for the marathon, which started at 9.30am (Rio time) from the Sambodromo stadium on a hot sunny day. An open, flat, looped course meant no respite from the heat and humidity, which took its toll as the race unfolded. 
The lead group of seven athletes split at around 36K (22 miles) with a group of three going on to contest the gold, silver and bronze medals. World Marathon champion Mare Dibaba (Ethopia) faded at the 39K (24 miles) marker, leaving the way clear for London Marathon winner Jemima Sumgong (Kenya) and Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) to battle for first and second place. 
Sumgong broke away in the final stretch, crossing the line in 2:24:04 to take the Olympic crown. Eunice Kirwa won silver in 2:24:13 with Mare Dibaba taking bronze in 2:24:30. 
The second example of female empowerment was Sarah al-Attar who was the first Saudi Arabian woman to run in the marathon. She finished in 3:16:11.