China’s He Jie fulfilled a dream Thursday by clinching the Asian Games men’s marathon title, while determined Bahraini Eunice Chumba romped to the women’s gold medal.
He, who came 45th at the August world championships in Budapest, was neck-and-neck with North Korea’s Han Ilryong at the 40-kilometer mark of the Qiantang River Green Belt course.
But he gradually ground down the 23-year-old to edge clear and power to the finish line in 2hr 13min 2sec, 25 seconds ahead.
“I told my coach that I have a dream and I will do it no matter what it takes,” said He.
“All of my plans this year were centered on preparing for the Asian Games, as this competition is in China and 1.4 billion Chinese people are watching.”
But it has been a long season for the 24-year-old and he admitted he was tough to lift himself after the worlds in Hungary.
“I am very excited, but also relieved. I came back from Budapest for training, and I was almost on the brink of collapse,” he said.
“But I felt strong from the moment I stood at the starting point.”
China’s Yang Shaohui did just enough to earn bronze ahead of Japan’s Toshiki Sadakata.
In contrast Chumba, who won the Rotterdam marathon this year, was in a class of her own, claiming victory by nearly two minutes in 2:26.14.
“This is the first time I win a gold medal in the Asian Games, or in any championships,” said the Kenyan-born 30-year-old.
“All the people shouting for me, that pushed me to win it, they pushed me to the finish line.
“From the beginning I ran well. My training has gone well, and I was confident. I was determined,” she added.
China’s Zhang Deshun came second ahead of Kyrgyzstan’s Sardana Trofimova.
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