Methkal Abu Drais (Getty Images)
Rio de Janeiro - Amid
celebrations for the end of the Rio Olympics, few spared a thought for
Jordan's Methkal Abu Drais who finished the marathon behind a Japanese
comedian, a stray dog and an Argentinian running sideways.
It sounds like a punchline to a joke, but that's what happened as the
32-year-old army sergeant trotted home last in Sunday's race, finishing
140th, more than 37 minutes behind gold medallist Eliud Kipchoge of
Enough time perhaps to fashion a sign warning "Slippery When Wet" for
rivals toppling like tenpins along the home straight on a concrete
surface that resembled an ice rink after a morning downpour.
"It wasn't my best day perhaps," Abu Drais told AFP.
"But my presence at the Olympics among the best marathon runners in the world is an achievement for me."
Before Abu Drais schlepped up the long concourse of the Sambadrome,
the spiritual centre of Rio's famed carnival, waving to fans, carnage
was unfolding ahead.
Former Olympic silver medallist Meb Keflezighi led the way when he
lost his footing and skidded across the finish line on all fours.
Mortified, he stayed where he was and began to do push-ups to loud
A stray black dog made a lengthy cameo appearance, to further cheers,
trotting alongside runners who looked a little wary of the furry
Abu Drais was still some way off at this stage, huffing and puffing
his way to the closing stages of a course which snaked through the heart
of Rio's historic centre.
He insisted he had little
time to take in any of the city's iconic landmarks, such as the giant
Christ the Redeemer statue, peeking through the clouds above.
"I wasn't here for sight-seeing," shrugged Abu Drais, who trains in
the Atlas mountains, which stretch through Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.
"A marathon runner doesn't have time to check out the tourist spots."
After watching Abu Drais race, some may beg to differ.
"The rain wasn't helpful," sniffed Abu Drais, who won the 2012 Stockholm Marathon.
"You have to deal with the elements, circumstances change from race to race. You just want to get to the finish."
If the rain was not as advertised, neither was the smorgasbord of comedy:
Argentine runner Federico Bruno did a cracking impersonation of a
wounded crab as he crossed the line sidewards-on in 137th, dragging his
cramping leg behind him.
Iran's Mohammadjafar Moradi collapsed 20 metres from the line and crawled desperately home.
Fifteen runners failed to finish, one wag wondering if they had
stumbled into one of the city's notorious 'favela' slums, never to be
As if praying for divine intervention, Cuba's Richer Perez unfurled a banner reading: "Love Jesus."
Abu Drais, meanwhile, was pipped at the line by pint-sized Kuniaki
Takizaki - a Japanese comedian who competes under Cambodia's flag.
Undeterred the doughty Jordanian said: "I'm off for a shower. I will
be back to finish in the top 10 at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics."