Ghirmay Ghebreselassie Wins Eritrea’s First Ever Gold in Marathon

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Ghirmay Ghebreslassie wins Eritrea's first ever gold medal
HISTORIC. On the first day of competition at the IAAF World Championships, a 19-year-old Eritrean wins gold and the 2015 World Championship marathon title and becomes the youngest marathon world champ in history!

By Cathal Dennehy,

In a lineup that closely resemble a World Marathon Majors field, it was Ghirmay Ghebreselassie, a little-known 19-year-old from Eritrea, who claimed the 2015 IAAF World Championship marathon title in a time of 2:12:28.

On the first day of the world championship competition in Beijing, Ghebreselassie defeated such noted athletes as Wilson Kipsang, world-record-holder Dennis Kimetto (who dropped out the race), Lelisa Desisa, and defending world marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich.

The field battled tough conditions on Saturday morning. At the start of the race it was 72 degrees Fahrenheit with 73 percent humidity, but temperatures quickly escalated in the second half of the race, to about 82 degrees.

Yemane Tsegay, of Ethiopia, took second, and Munyo Solomon Mutai, of Uganda, took third.

Men’s Marathon – IAAF World Championship, Beijing 2015


In the end it was the day of Ghirmay Ghebreslassie. The teenager won Eritrea’s first World Championships gold medal, taking the men’s marathon title on a day when more favoured runners wilted in the sun.

Ghebreselassie is just 19 years old, turning 20 in November later in the year. His country is scarcely any older, having gained independence only in 1993. To date its most famous runner has been Zersenay Tadese, silver medallist behind Kenenisa Bekele in the 10,000m at the 2009 World Championships.

In two hours 12 minutes and 27 seconds on the streets of Beijing on the opening morning of these championships, Ghebreslassie surpassed Tadese in terms of World Championships medals. He still has a way to go to match his countryman in career achievements, but as he is just setting off on his journey, he well may sometime in the future.

In any case, no one can take away Ghebreslassie’s singular achievement of becoming Eritrea’s first World Championships gold medallist, and the youngest winner of any road event in the history of the championships.

It would not be stretching a point to describe the men’s World Championships marathon as the race of the unknown marathon runner. Certainly it was the race of the unheralded marathon runner. Silver medallist Yemane Tsegay of Ethiopia came in with a lifetime best of 2:04:48, but that was in Rotterdam in 2012 and he has not been as fast since.

Bronze medallist Solomon Mutai of Uganda came into the race with a personal best of 2:10:42 and a close fourth-place finish at last year’s Commonwealth Games – solid, but not spectacular, credentials.