|Motlokoa Nkhabutlane produced another impressive performance |
in one of Europe's top races...
Lesotho marathon record holder Motlokoa Nkhabutlane finished fourth at the Rome Marathon on Sunday as he continues to make his mark in Europe.
The race in the Italian capital was his second-ever sojourn into Europe after running the Paris Marathon last year.
Nkhabutlane put in another classy display to clock a time of 2 hours, 10 minutes and 32 seconds (2:10:32) and finish in the top four of a quality international field.
The 33 year-old’s impressive performance is likely to open doors for other opportunities to race in the biggest events on the prestigious European marathon circuit. Nkhabutlane’s time of 2:10:32 is also the second fastest run by a Mosotho in a marathon after the national record of 2:09:47 which he set at last year’s Paris Marathon where he finished ninth.
The Rome Marathon was won by Kenya’s Cosmas Birech who took the honours with a personal best time of 2:08:03.
The race was a fast one and the leading group went through the opening five kilometres in 14:56 before reaching the midway point in 1:03:18, inside course record pace.
The pace slowed slightly in the second half of the race which allowed Birech to launch a decisive attack around the 33 kilometres mark and break away from all challengers.
The Kenyan’s winning performance shaved 42 seconds from his previous best of 2:08:45 which he set in Eindhoven in 2017.
Indeed, to give an indication of the quality of the running, the other two podium finishers also required personal bests.
Second-placed Ibrahim Abdo Abdi – who runs for Bahrain but is originally from Kenya – improved his best by more than three minutes to clock 2:08:32 while Paul Kangogo completed the top three with a personal best of 2:09:20.
Birech is the elder brother of Kenya’s 3000 metres steeplechase star Jairus Birech, who finished fourth at the 2015 World Championships and won the Diamond League in 2014.
About 14,000 runners took part in the marathon and roughly 80,000 entered the non-competitive 5 kilometre Run Fun.
Nkhabutlane ran in the Rome Marathon after deciding to pull out of the on-going Commonwealth Games in Australia in January because of a lack of financial support for his preparations. He also opted out of last month’s Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town, South Africa (which he won in 2015) to focus on the trip to Italy.
Nkhabutlane was expected to be one of Lesotho’s main medal hopes at the Commonwealth Games but said: “I was left with no choice but to pull out because as much as I have to represent the country I also have to fend for my family.”
Speaking before running in Rome, Nkhabutlane reiterated that if he does not receive assistance to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics he will pull out of those Games as well.
“We love our country and we are eager to represent it but if we are not getting any support we are left with no choice but to withdraw,” Nkhabutlane said.
Rome Marathon results (top 8 finishers):
1. Cosmas Kipchoge Birech (Kenya) 2:08:03
2. Ibrahim Abdo Abdi (Bahrain) 2:08:32
3. Paul Kangogo (Kenya) 2:09:20
4. Motlokoa Nkhabutlane (Lesotho) 2:10:32
5. Ghirmay Birhanu Gebru (Ethiopia) 2:10:57
6. Mathew Kipsaat (Kenya) 2:11:35
7. Dejene Debela Gonfa (Ethiopia) 2:12:01
8. Daniel Aschenik Derese (Ethiopia) 2:13:36
1. Rahma Tusa (Ethiopia) 2:23:46
2. Dalila Abdulkadir (Bahrain) 2:26:46
3. Alice Jepkemboi Kibor (Kenya) 2:28:19
4. Sharon Cherop (Kenya) 2:29:26
5. Jemila Wortesa Shure (Ethiopia) 2:32:00
6. Mesera Hussein Dubiso (Ethiopia) 2:36:27
7. Afera Godfay Berha (Ethiopia) 2:36:53
8. Buzuayehu Mohamed Ahmed (Ethiopia) 2:38:37