Kenyan marathon runners showed their superiority going into the Olympics, with Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany coasting to victory in London on Sunday to virtually assure themselves of selection for the games.
Kipsang, the second-fastest marathon runner ever, won the 26.2-mile race for the first time, more than two minutes ahead of fellow Kenyan Martin Lel.
Kipsang had stormed ahead of the pack with about 6 miles to go in the British capital before winning in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 44 seconds.
“I knew when I went away they have to work very, very hard to beat me as I was feeling very good in myself,” he said. “I am sorry I didn't (break) the record but winning is the most important thing for me. I feel a little tired now, but I am happy and tired.”
He hopes the victory in London earned him a return ticket here for the Olympic race Aug. 12.
“I have done my part,” he said. “Now it's up to the officials at Athletics Kenya to do their selections.”
In a sprint finish in front of Buckingham Palace on the Mall, Lel edged Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia for second place. World-record holder Patrick Makau dropped out less than half of the way through.
It was an all-Kenyan podium in the women's race, with Keitany defending her title in 2:18:37 for an African record.
Organizers announced late Sunday that one of the around 37,000 participants died after collapsing near the finish at Buckingham Palace.
“A 30-year-old woman collapsed at Birdcage Walk, and although immediate medical attention was provided to the casualty, the fatality was confirmed this afternoon,” organizers said in a statement. They did not identify the runner.
Keitany said it was a “very tough” victory to become the third fastest female marathon runner of all time and that she already has her sights on success here at the Olympics on Aug. 5.
“Everyone was just looking for the Olympic time in order to be selected,” she said. “It's great for me to win the race for the second time. I hope they will select me now for the Olympics.
“I want to go and try to get a medal at the Olympics. ... On Friday I went to look at the route.”
Keitany pulled away from world champion Edna Kiplagat with around 3 miles to go before winning by 73 seconds. Priscah Jeptoo was third.
The winners were presented with their medals by Prince Harry, who indicated that security logistics were thwarting his attempts to enter the marathon.
“How I would do it is under question,” he told the BBC.
The third-in-line to the British throne quipped that his brother, Prince William, and wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, want to compete.
“What's fantastic is that my brother and his wife will be doing it next year, I think,” Prince Harry said. “He's going to have to now, isn't he?”
But the princes' office, Clarence House, insisted the comment was said in jest.
Follow us on Twitter: