Cheyech clinch Kenya’s first games gold, Aussie bag men’s title

By evelyn watta
Jul 27, 2021
  • L-R:Flomena Cheyech the 2014 Commonwealth games marathon champion, Namibian Lukeiko Johannes and Kenya's Caroline Kilel(silver winner) during the women's marathon.

GLASGOW, Flomena Cheyech and Caroline Kilel saved Kenya the blushes with an easygoing gold-silver sweep in the Commonwealth Games women’s marathon on Sunday in the drizzly Scottish city of Glasgow, moments after Australian Michael Shelley had sprinted away with the men’s title.

Cheyech braced the slippery conditions and held on to the lead after speeding off from her compatriot as they approached the 35km mark crossing the finish line at the Glasgow Green in 2:26.45, for her second major career victory after clinching the Paris marathon title earlier in the year.

Kilel closed in for second in 2:27.10 as Australian Jess Trengove wrapped up the podium place in a personal best of 2: 30.12 an impressive display on the course following through on Shelley’s surprise dominance that earned him the gold in 2:11.15, his fastest time.

Aussie delight  

“I have got to pinch myself.To come back and actually win is indescribable, “said the new marathon champion who won silver in New Delhi fours ago improving his time by eight seconds.

John Kelai the defending champion faded to fifth as Ugandan Abraham Kiplimo picked Uganda’s first medal a bronze in 2:12.23.

The East African runners were the clear favorites and expectedly so comprised the lead pack by the 15km mark. Kilel and Chelany seemingly comfortable leaving their Ugandan counterparts to race upfront with the tenacious Australian pair of Shelley, the commonwealth games silver winner and Liam Adams keeping pace.

The lead pack stuck together until the 37km at the water point when Ugandan Solomon Mutai threatened but was quickly curtailed by Chelany, second in Berlin in 2011 and fourth in the same city race last year and the lanky Australian, with Kelai losing his footing and remaining 10m behind the pack.

The East Africans discernibly struggling with the rather cool and wet conditions will deplore the deferred assault on the ascending course that worked out to Shelley’s advantage as he ripped apart their hopes of bagging the first track and field gold.

The 30-year old from Gold coast brilliantly held on as he picked Australia’s fifth ever Commonwealth marathon title last won by his compatriot Stephen Moneghetti 20 years ago with a yawning gap.

“You just try to run the best you possibly can and this race was like a dream to be honest. I am still buzzing. I cant believe it,” said the Aussie who placed 16th at the London Olympics. Just the right thrill as his hometown readies to host the games in 2018.

As Shelley's champion status settled in, the Computer Science Masters graduate Chelany wholly embraced the silver.

“I am pleased with the silver win, a gold would have been a bonus considering these conditions which are not my best,”said the Seoul Marathon 2014 runner-up.”

“He (Shelley) was unexpected challenge when I had slowed a bit to see if I could see how far off behind my mates were. Now I can start to dream of the world championships and even Olympics,” said the 32 year old teaches part-time at the Kibiko high school in his home and training area of Ngong.

“We had it going until the last four kilometers when our plan was messed. The next race will give me a chance to improve,” said Kelai, 37 disappointed with his fifth place finish almost a minute 26 seconds behind the winner in 2:12.41 just ahead of compatriot Eric Ndiema who closed in for sixth( 2:13.44).

Easy 1-2

The women’s race played out in favour of the Kenyans who by the 15km mark had reduced the lead pack to three tagging along Namibian Lukeiko Johannes.

At the 25km Kilel, the 2011 Boston marathon champion and Cheyech swapped leads. Cheyech pushed further with about 3km to go sprinting away to the country’s first medal.

“I had said one of us would take the gold, the other silver as we planned to stick together and fight to the end,” said the new 32-year-old champion.

“We had a good start as planned but we broke off to push the pace. Now I have to work hard and get to the World championships next year or the Olympics a year after.”

“With no Ethiopians in the race, it was a direct ticket for us for the medals. We watched the Namibian closely (Johannes) but we knew she was no threat,”offered Kilel.