Bekele tastes victory in marathon debut

Updated 07 May 2014
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Bekele tastes victory in marathon debut

PARIS: Ethiopia’s legendary runner Kenenisa Bekele notched up another impressive milestone in an already glittering career by winning the Paris Marathon on Sunday, his first attempt at the gruelling event.
The 31-year-old 5,000m and 10,000m world record holder crossed the line in an event record time of 2hr 5min 04secs after negotiating a sunbathed course of 42.195km (26.22 miles) through the streets of the French capital.
The previous Paris record was held by Kenya’s Stanley Wiwott who clocked 2hr 05:10 in 2012.
Fellow Ethiopian Limenih Getachew came home second at 2hr 06.49secs with Luka Kanda of Kenya, the 2012 Rome winner, claiming the final spot on the podium crossing the line in 2hr 08.02.
“It was my first marathon and I didn’t have much experience,” said Bekele, the triple Olympic champion.
“It was very tough but it was the time I expected. After 25km I pushed alone but it was very tough.” added
“Now, I know the marathon, I can run faster than that but I have to prepare even more. I’m sure I can run a better time than that. I still have time in my career to do better but I am satisfied.”
Bekele emulated his great compatriot Haile Gebrselassie who also made a successful step from the track to marathon and has the third fastest time in history.
Bekele made his move with about 25km to run and opened up a lead that may have been even more significant had he not struggled with what appeared to be a hamstring problem.
“The hamstring wasn’t good after 25km. It was cramping but it’s ok. I’ll feel it more in the morning,” explained Bekele.
He missed out on the world record which is held by Kenyan Wilson Kipsang who set a mark of 2hr 3min 23secs in 2013 at Berlin.
“At 5km from the finish, my hamstring cramped up again and I couldn’t accelerate. I think in the future, I’ll do better but it’s very positive.”
“Yes, the world record is a possibility and a possibility if I can prepare for a longer time. For this marathon, I only had three months of training and that is not enough.
“After the 5000 and 10,000m, you have to train differently and longer to adapt to the change of rhythm. I am sure for my second marathon, I will do better and can perhaps attack the world record.
“Now, Im going to return a bit to the track, the 10,000m, run a few times and after I will decide what I’m going to do. I think there’s a good possibility that I’ll run another marathon in the autumn.
In the women’s race, Kenya’s Flomena Cheyech dominated proceedings, winning in a time of 2hr 22:44secs as she turned in a confident showing with Ethiopia’s Yebrgual Melese second at 2hr 26:21.
A second Ethiopian, Ahmed Zemzem claimed third spot in 2hr 29.35.
“I’m very happy, the course was good,” said a delighted Cheyech.
“I wasn’t that fast but in the middle of the race, I felt confident and just told myself to keep running,” she added.
The victory for five-time world champion Bekele, who dominated the 5,000m and 10,000m for the best part of a decade, caps a stunning comeback from a debilitating calf injury which kept him out of competition for nearly three years.
Last September, he defeated Gebrselassie and his track rival Mo Farah in his comeback race at the Great North run in England — his half marathon debut — outkicking Farah in a sprint for the line.
Britain’s Farah, who emulated Bekele when he won Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m gold at the 2012 London Games, makes his own marathon debut in London next week, but Bekele has opted not to go head to head with him in the English capital.
“Of course I’m going to watch the London marathon because I love to watch other races, marathon or not. I’m a marathon runner now,” concluded Bekele.


Juventus crowned Italian Super Cup champions

‘I’m very happy to have won my first title with Juventus,’ Cristiano Ronaldo said. (Photo/General Sports Authority)
Updated 17 January 2019
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Juventus crowned Italian Super Cup champions

  • Ronaldo’s glancing header sinks AC Milan 1-0 at Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City Stadium

JEDDAH: A historic Wednesday evening at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium saw Italian champions Juventus beat AC Milan in the final of the 31st annual Supercoppa Italiana.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winning goal as Juventus lifted the Supercoppa Italiana for the first time since 2015 with a 1-0 victory in front of a sold-out 61,235-capacity crowd.

As only one should expect when two of the most successful Italian clubs go head to head, a tactical and elegant, albeit very physical, display of football was at hand. 

Cheerful roars from the Jeddah crowd resonated throughout the night, in the kind of buzzing atmosphere that only a cup final brings.

Juventus, the Serie A champions, began brightly and were the first side to settle into the game, threatening with frequent sweeping moves.

Juventus and Portuguese international Joao Cancelo could have opened the scoring in the 16th minute after being played through on goal, but the defender’s zooming effort lacked the necessary precision and whisked past the far post with the Milan keeper rooted in his spot.

A maddening crescendo of noise erupted when Juventus and French international Blaise Matuidi thought he had opened the scoring in the 33rd minute after being played through by Costa before being flagged offside. 

Juventus did not have too much longer for another opportunity though, with Ronaldo’s acrobatic half volley from just outside the six-yard box bouncing and nestling agonizingly just over the bar and sparing Donnarumma’s blushes in the process.

Christiano Ronaldo has scored eight goals in his last seven finals. (Reuters)

Milan, who qualified for the final as runners-up to Juventus in last season’s Coppa Italia, had struggled throughout the first half to settle into the game. They gradually grew into their own though, and nearly broke the deadlock at the stroke of halftime with a stinging drive from Turkish international Hakan Calhanoglu.

After a slew of opportunities had Juventus failing to build a halftime lead, Milan nearly made them pay for their squandered chances by starting the second half like bats out of hell. 

Milan’s confident pressing start to the half was almost rewarded in the 47th minute when a Ronaldo tackle inadvertently set up Cutrone with a clear sight on goal.  The striker turned and blasted an effort that rattled off the crossbar — the closest either team had come thus far.

And just when the tide seemed to have turned for Milan in the second half, their confidence building with every minute, a perfectly floating cross from Pjanic found Ronaldo with yards of space, and he made no mistake directing a swift header into the back of the net in the 61st minute and sending Juve supporters into a frenzy.


• AS IT HAPPENED: Cristiano Ronaldo's goal gives Juventus Supercoppa Italiana victory over AC Milan in Jeddah >>

• Arab News Matchday gallery >>


Things went from bad to worse for Milan in the 73rd minute. Franck Kessie came rushing in with a recklessly timed tackle, crunching his studs into the shins of Emre Can, which resulted in him seeing a straight red and leaving Milan with 10 men and a subsequent insurmountable uphill battle.

The final whistle came soon after, and with it brought Juventus a record eighth Supercoppa. It goes without saying that there is nothing quite like the atmosphere of a cup final, but this was a historic and monumental occasion for Jeddah. 

The first major European cup final match being held in Saudi Arabia is now in the books, and with it brought an added sense of passion and excitement. 

Thousands of men, women and children showed up enthusiastically, were highly supportive of both teams, and were thoroughly entertained. It was a successful and memorable night that will surely pave the way for many more.

Addressing a prematch press conference on Tuesday night, Juventus Captain Giorgio Chiellini had defended the choice of Jeddah as the venue for the game against a backdrop of criticism by some. He said that it was “right” to give the Saudi port city the chance to host the showpiece match.

“We (footballers) cannot change the world but initiatives such as this can provide a new start.”

Juventus had been experiencing a worrying trend in cup finals of late. Despite securing the Serie A and Coppa Italia double for three seasons running, they had lost back-to-back Supercoppas and seven out of nine European Cup finals. 

Chiellini, however, firmly believed that his team would change the trend and the team did make their captain proud. 

Juventus now holds the outright record of most Italian Super Cups with eight titles. (Arab News photo by Ali Khamg)