In Focus

London Marathon: two exceptional success stories

The standout Britons were a junior doctor and a runner overlooked for the Olympic squad

It will probably go down as the most expensive wave in athletics history. The 30-year-old Ethiopian, Sisay Lemma – so often a “marathon bridesmaid” – had just burned off a high-quality London Marathon field that included last year’s winner, Shura Kitata. So who can blame him for basking in his moment of glory as he neared the finish on Sunday and giving the crowd a “regal wave”, said Sean Ingle in The Guardian

Yet shortly after crossing the line in 2hrs 4mins 1sec (27 seconds ahead of second-placed Vincent Kipchumba of Kenya), Lemma was struck by a painful thought. He will receive $105,000 in prize money, but had he not slowed down he would have earned an extra $25,000 (£18,500) for breaking the 2hrs 4min barrier. 

Elsewhere in the men’s event, the standout performance came from a junior doctor competing on his 29th birthday. Phil Sesemann, who works at Leeds General Infirmary, has only ever been a part-time runner: he’d never run a marathon before. Yet he was the first Briton home and finished seventh in a time of 2hrs 12mins 58secs, said Rick Broadbent in The Times. He now says he may take a few years out from his medical training in order to give the marathon a proper “crack”. 

The women’s race was won by Kenya’s Joyciline Jepkosgei, who “outshone reigning champion and world record holder Brigid Kosgei to take the title in 2hrs 17mins 43secs”, said Molly McElwee in The Daily Telegraph

But once again, it was the first placed Briton – 30-year-old Charlotte Purdue – who stole much of the limelight. Months ago, she was controversially left out of Team GB’s squad for the Olympics, and later accused selectors of making the decision on the basis of “Mickey Mouse evidence” and “false information” about her fitness. On Sunday, she became Britain’s third-fastest woman of all time, posting 2hrs 23mins 26secs to finish tenth.

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