Lusapho April (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - South
African marathon runners, Sibusiso Nzima and Lusapho April fell off the
pace set by Kenyan winner Eliud Kipchoge, despite keeping pace with the
leaders in the early stages of the Olympic men's marathon.
Both runners were still part of the leading group as the race passed
the halfway stage, with Nzima at one stage finding himself in fourth
place but neither could keep up the pace while a third South African
runner, Lungile Gongqa, failed to finish.
Nzima led the way for the South Africans at the 5km mark, sitting in
33rd place just four seconds off the lead with the field still very much
Nzima's compatriots, Gongqa, and April stuck together at that stage a
further four seconds behind in 57th and 58th places, 8 seconds behind
the leader Burundi's Abraham Niyonkuru.
Little changed by the 10km mark, as Nzima maintained the 4 second gap
to the leaders, although April made a push up the field to 43rd five
seconds off the lead, while Gongqa slipped to nine seconds behind the
leader in 61st place.
Nzima pushed up the field to 26th by the 15km stage, while April
dropped back to 48th and Gongqa likewise slipped back into 68th still
just 8 seconds behind the leader with the field bunched.
The leading South African, Nzima held the four second gap to the
leaders steady at 20km slipping back in the bunched field to 32nd while
April joined his compatriot in being just 4 seconds off the lead.
At the halfway stage Nzima and April were in the lead pack just two
seconds off the leader while Gonqa was further back, falling off the
pace and dropping to 80th place a minute and 33 seconds behind halfway
leader Wesley Korir of Kenya.
By 25km Nzima was up to fourth just one second behind the leader
Ethiopian, Lemi Berhanu, while April held his position five seconds
back, Gongqa had fallen out of contention back in 93rd.
The heavy early pace began to tell on Nzima ahead of the 30km mark as
he slipped back 35th, with the Kenyan trio of Korir, Stanley Kipleting
Biwott and Kipchoge beginning to establish dominance, April did a good
job of hanging on finding himself 17th with 15km to go.
As Kipchoge led a charge to 35km, April would hold onto his 17th
place but slip to 2 minutes and ten seconds behind the Kenyan, while
Nzima faded further to be over six minutes back in 65th place.
Kipchoge would charge to the gold for Kenya with a time of 2h0844s,
while Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia earned silver and American Galen Rupp
took the bronze.
The leading South African, April, finished 24th with a time of
2h15m24s, after keeping up with the leaders in the early stages Nzima
finished the race 97th recording a time of 2h25m33s, while Gongqa
dropped out of the race before the 35km mark.