Stephen Kiprotich leads the way in the men's marathon. (Mike Groll / Associated…)
LONDON — Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda won the country’s second-ever Olympic gold medal Sunday by winning the men’s marathon on an overcast day.
Kiprotich, 23, covered the course in 3 hours, eight minutes and one second, 26 seconds ahead of runner-up Abel Kirui of Kenya. The bronze went to Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang in 2:09:37.
UCLA alumnus Meb Keflezighi, the Athens marathon silver medalist, delivered a late kick Sunday to move up to fourth in 2:11:06. That was 23 seconds faster than his Athens runner-up time.
"Coming here I told my wife, ‘I have a feeling I’m going to finish fourth,’ Keflezighi said. "Did I want to finish fourth – no. But at the World or Olympic games I’ll take it, especially considering that I did not make the Olympics [in 2008]. In 2004, to be a silver medalist, I know how that feels, so I congratulate those people who finished first, second and third. Everybody works hard to accomplish such a thing and I am very proud of myself and our country to finish fourth. It’s not where you want to be sometimes, but fourth place at my last Olympics – I’ll take it any time."
The two other American entrants didn’t finish because of injuries. Ryan Hall of Big Bear Lake dropped out because of a hamstring problem and Abdi Abdirahman of Tucson, Ariz., dropped out because of injuries.
“I do not know if it was tendinitis or something like that,” Hall said. “It got progressively tighter as the race went on.
“I do not want to turn it into a serious injury. I have never had a DNF [did not finish] in a race before. Not finishing a race is not an option unless you are running the risk of damaging your future.”
Abdirahman said he pulled out as a precaution.
“It was the hardest thing to do. At the same time I didn't want to push hard and I didn't want to take the risk because of the pain I was feeling in my leg,” he said. “The best thing was to shut it down and drop out.”
Uganda’s first Olympic gold medal was won by John Akii-Bua in the 400-meter hurdles in 1972. The country hadn’t won any Olympic medals since 1996.
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