An unheralded Belachew Endale Abayneh clinched his maiden crown as African powerhouses Ethiopia and Kenya swept all the medals in the men’s and women’s sections of the 28th Pune International Marathon on Sunday.
Belachew led the Ethiopian gold rush as his compatriots won the titles in the men’s and women’s half-marathon.
Belachew broke into the lead by the 30km mark to cross the finish line at Nehru Stadium after clocking two hours, 17 minutes and 52 seconds.
He was followed across the finish line by Kenyan Ezekiel Cherop, who clocked 2:18.16 and Ethiopian Edisa Merga Ejigu in 2:20.33.
“I won here after three failed attempts. I am very happy that I managed to win this time,” he said.
The field boasted of Gebregziabher Gebremariam, who had won the New York Marathon on his debut over the distance in 2010 with a personal best of 2:04:53.
With the Services athletes pulling out, there was no show from the Indians in the full marathon, while the women’s 10km saw an upset when Nilam Rajput stunned Asian Games silver medallist Kavita Raut by six seconds for the top position.
A 16th overall finish with a timing of 2:27:04 by Bhiku Khairnar was the best among the Indians.
Local lads K. Moorthy (2:51.51) and Vijay Aher (3:03.33) were overall 23rd and 26th.
The men’s half-marathon had a photo-finish with Habtamu Arga Wegi of Ethiopia beating his Kenyan rival Yegon Daniel Cheruiyot after both clocked 1:04.21.
Ethiopian Melaku Belachew Bizuneh finished third with 1:04.30.