Athletics

Gebrselassie falters in Japan

2012-12-02 14:54
Haile Gebrselassie (AFP)

Fukuoka - Kenyan Joseph Gitau produced an upset victory in the Fukuoka International Marathon after former world record holder Haile Gebrselassie pulled up after 32km of Sunday's race.

The 24-year-old clocked a winning time of two hours, six minutes, 58 seconds with Japan's Hiroyuki Horibata runner-up in 2:08:24 and Henryk Szost of Poland third in 2:08:42.

"I never imagined I could win this race," the Japan-based Gitau told reporters after his first marathon victory. "My past results haven't been good.

"But I wanted to sharpen my focus on the marathon and I've been running in Japan since high school so the environment suits me."

Gebrselassie ran in February's Tokyo Marathon in a bid to launch his bid for an Olympic swansong in London but flopped to a fourth-place finish and eventually failed to make the cut.

The 39-year-old Ethiopian, twice Olympic and four-times world 10 000m gold medallist, had even less joy on his return to Japan.

Among the leading group of six runners, Gebrselassie pulled up at the side of the road with around 10km left.

Gebrselassie's latest failure is set to further fuel speculation over the future of the man dubbed the "Emperor" after another year of disappointment.

Results:

1. Joseph Gitau (KEN) 2hr 06min 58sec
2. Hiroyuki Horibata (JPN) 2:08:24
3. Henryk Szost (POL) 2:08:42
4. Arata Fujiwara (JPN) 2:09:31
5. Bunta Kuroki (JPN) 2:10:08
6. Yuki Kawauchi (JPN) 2:10:29
7. Mohamed Trafeh (USA) 2:11:41
8. Ryan Vail (USA) 2:11:45
9. Cutbert Nyasango (ZIM) 2:11:48
10. Kota Noguchi (JPN) 2:12:24

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