Fatuma beats the rain, Dejene leads medal sweep at Xiamen Marathon title


Ethiopia’s Fatuma Sado overcame heavy rain and a stomach problem in the latter sages to win a second title at the Xiamen International Marathon, while Dejene Debla saw the men’s sweep of the podium by Ethiopians.
Running in rainy conditions, four Ethiopians including Fatuma, Muluhabt Tsega, Hirut Alemayehu and Tigist Memuye paced the race to 15 kilometers in 51:11. Fatuma and the 24-year-old Alemayehu ran shoulder-to-shoulder for just another kilometer before Fatuma pulled away as she approached the halfway mark then went all the way to victory despite the last five kilometers with a pained expression on her face and a vomit several hundred meters before the finish.
The men’s race was paced by 11 runners from the ten kilometer mark. After the halfway mark the leading pack started to shrink then at 35 kilometers only five men, four of them Ethiopians were left, including pre-race favorites Ayele Abshero of Ethiopia.
At the final 1,000 meters the race was among Ethiopians: Dejene, Ayele and the 10,000m bronze medalist at the 2012 London Olympic Games with a marathon Tariku Bekele. Then Dejene launched his powerful charge for the win and ten meters before the line he looked back to check his advantage and opened his arms to begin his celebration. It was only the fourth race for Debela since his debut in marathon in 2016. And the victory can well serve as a birthday gift for him as he will turn 23 in two days. The 30-year-old Tariku finished second in 2:11:29 while the 27-year-old Ayele, the fastest man on paper, failed to live up to expectations and was forced to settle for third in 2:11:33.