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Sarah Chepchirchir of Kenya broke the course record at the Rock 'n' Roll Lisbon Marathon EDP to highlight a busy day of IAAF Gold Label Road Race action in the Portuguese capital on Sunday (2).

The 30-year-old clocked 2:24:12 to eclipse the previous course standard by nearly a minute while shattering her own lifetime best by nearly six.

In the morning's other three races, also IAAF Gold Label events, Kenyan Alfred Kering won the men's marathon in 2:10:27, while Nguse Amlosom of Eritrea and Genet Yalew of Ethiopia took the half marathon titles, clocking 1:02:39 and 1:10:25 respectively.

CHEPCHIRCHIR SURPRISES EVEN HERSELF - MARATHON 

The women’s race began with a balanced pace, with a group of five still in contention at the midway point, reached in 1:12:23.  Ethiopian Shanko Genemo, who was gunning for a third triumph here, was forced to drop out just beyond the half, leaving four Kenyans to battle for the win: Chepchirchir, Brigid Kosgei, Esther Ndiema and Rose Chepchumba.

Midway through the race’s second half, Chepchirchir and Kosgei dropped the other pair with Chepchirchir making her decisive break in the closing kilometres to easily take down the previous course record of 2:25:05.

“I wasn’t expecting that, neither the victory nor the performance,” said Chepchirchir, whose previous best was 2:30:08 set in Hamburg in April. “I’m very, very happy with that.”

Behind her, Brigid Kosgei notched a big personal best as well, clocking 2:24:45 for second. Her performance was also a big improvement on her previous lifetime best of 2:27:45 set when winning April’s Milan Marathon. 

Esther Ndiema, also from Kenya, was a distant third in 2:31:41.

In relative terms, the men’s race wasn’t nearly as fast.

After an opening half of 1:04:07, Alfred Kering pulled away in the latter stages to win comfortably in 2:10:27, well ahead of Reuben Kerio, who clocked 2:11:09. Seboka Nigusse closed well to clock 2:11:42 and dash the hopes for a Kenyan double podium sweep - IAAF

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The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games were brought to a close inside a packed Maracana Stadium on Sunday evening.

Singers, dancers and fireworks lit up the iconic stadium before tributes were paid to Iranian cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad, who died on Saturday.

Sir Philip Craven, International Paralympic Committee president, said the movement was "united in grief".

Referring to the success of the Games, Craven said the Rio Paralympics were "uniquely Brazilian and wondrous".

Team Kenya

Kenya finished the Games ranked 35th in the world with a grasp of 6 medals; 3 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze. Samuel Muchai Kimani won two of the gold medals in the men’s 1500m T11 and 5000m T11 while Henry Kirwa delivered the men’s 5000m-T13 gold.

Nigeria, 17th, topped the African standings with 8 gold, 2 silver and as many bronze followed by Tunisia ( 7 gold, 6 silver, 6 bronze), South Africa (7 gold, 6 silver, 4 bronze), Algeria, Morocco and Egypt.

China topped the standings with 107 golds and 239 in total followed by Great Britain.

Craven thanked organisers, athletes and spectators after passing the Paralympic flag to the governor of Tokyo, which hosts the next Games in 2020.

Craven was also warmly applauded when bestowing the Paralympic Order - his organisation's highest honour - on the Brazilian city.

Mission accomplished 

Standing alongside him, Carlos Nuzman, the president of Rio's organising committee, was cheered when he exclaimed: "Mission accomplished.

"The Brazil we love so much has shown the world what it can do.

"This celebration started with a dream. It was 20 years in the making. Many thought it was impossible. But not for Rio and Brazil.

"The impossible happened. Brazilians never give up."

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National Olympics Committee of Kenya (NOCK) treasurer Fridah Shiroya has been cleared of any wrongdoing over the mismanagement of the country’s Olympic team that took part in the Rio Games.

Shiroya was under probe over alleged theft of uniforms and allowances meant for athletes who represented the country in the Rio Games in Brazil but walked out of the court today a happy lady.

“Investigations that had been initiated against her have   been completed. We are asking this court to close her file as we no longer intend to press charges against her,” Chief magistrate Daniel Ogembo was told.

Ogembo, consequently marked the file as closed and directed the Ksh200,000 cash bail she deposited a month ago to be reimbursed with immediate effect.

Soi Charged

The new development came as Shiroya’s chef-de mission Stephen Soi, Secretary general Francis Kinyili Paul and first vice-chairman Pius Ochieng' were arraigned in court to face charges. Soi denied stealing thousands meant for athletes' and officials' accommodation in Rio. He is facing five charges related to the theft of 25.6m Kenyan shillings.

Two other top officials denied charges of stealing team uniforms provided by sponsor Nike.

Team Kenya, which won 13 medals at the Games, were dogged by allegations of mismanagement and corruption in Rio. Shiroya will be a key witness in the trial of the NOCK officials. The court learnt that she has cooperated with investigators, a move that led to her file being closed.

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Edwin Kiptoo and Alice Aprot of Kenya were the winners at the 32nd Dam tot Damloop, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race from Amsterdam to Zaandam, Netherlands, on Sunday (18).

In a repeat of his finish last year, Kiptoo was alone at the finish line of the traditional 10-mile race, clocking 45:25, the fastest time in the world this year. But in contrast to his race one year ago, when he grabbed the lead from the gun and ran the length of the race virtually alone, this year he had Uganda's Joshua Cheptegei as a worthy opponent.

Cheptegei, 20, who finished a notable sixth in the 10,000m at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, ran even with Kiptoo and even controlled the pace for a stretch at the 10-kilometre point. But a kilometre later, Kiptoo took command to register a 13-second victory over Cheptegei who clocked 45:38. Abrar Osman from Eritrea was third clocking 46:12.

In the women's contest, Aprot, who was fourth in the Olympic 10,000m last month in 29:53.51, took command early in the longest race of her career. If she struggled with the extra mileage, it didn't show.

The 22-year-old won comfortably in 51:59, more than half a minute clear of Tejitu Daba of Bahrain who clocked 52:34. Further back, Kenyan Luci Karimi, the winner of this year's Prague Marathon, was third in 53:03.

Traditionally the elite women start six minutes and four seconds before the elite men, the difference in the course records between the genders -- Ingrid Kristiansen's 50:31 from 1987 and Leonard Patrick Komon's 44:27 run from 2011. That sometimes sets up a hotly-contested battle between the men’s and women’s leaders in the waning stages.

Kiptoo won that battle once again as well, making up the difference about two kilometres from the finish before pulling away.

The leading Dutch runners were Elizeba Cherono, who was fifth in the women's race in 53:26, and Abdi Nageeye, 11th in the men's contest in 48:17.

Conditions at race time were cloudy and warm, with temperatures rising to nearly 20 F, with light winds and 85% humidity.

With 45,000 participants starting the race, the Dam tot Damloop is the largest 10-mile race in the world. Another 13,000 runners competed in a five-mile race on Saturday night while 4000 participated in children's events Sunday morning - IAAF

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Kenya's Ezekiel Omullo and Bahrain's Gladys Kibiwot emerged triumpant at the 38th edition of the PZU Warsaw Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, on Sunday (25). 

Over 6000 runners took part in this year's event, held in cool and sunny conditions in the Polish city.

In the men's race, Ezekiel Omullo took the best advantage of the excellent weather to score a repeat win in a PB of 2:08:55. An impressive final 10km gave him a winning margin of more than two minutes, with Douglas Chebii and Dominic Kimwetich completing the all-Kenyan podium. Kibiwot, meanwhile, was the women's winner in 2:36:34 after a battle against Ethiopian Tizifa Niguse, with Jane Muia of Kenya taking third.

A leading group of nine, seven of which came from Kenya, formed early on in the men's race. The pack continued at a steady pace, with splits of 15:20 at 5km and 30:37 at 10km.

The pace remained consistent in the next part of the race, but the group was slowly getting reduced. By 15km, reached in 45:53, the fastest man in the field Albert Matebor had already been dropped.

The leaders took 1:04:33 to get to the halfway point, with seven men still bunched together. Shortly thereafter, however, two more men had to yield. One of those was Poland's Jared Shegumo, the European silver medallist from 2014.

Thus, 25 km and 1:16:42 into the race, the leading group was reduced to five: last year's winner Ezekiel Omullo of Kenya, his lesser known compatriots Peter Wanjiru, Douglas Chebii and Sammy Nyokaye, and the sole Ethiopian Tilahun Aleye.

Within the next few kilometres, the race evolved into a three-way all-Kenyan battle for the win. With 1:32:14 at 30 km pointing to a finishing time in the 2:09 range, only Chebii, Nyokaye and Omullo were able to maintain the pace at the front. The next group, comprised of Aleye and Kenya's Dominic Kimwetich, were already 50 seconds in arrears, with Shegumo another 50 seconds back in sixth.

The group continued together for another few minutes, but soon after Omullo decided it was time to put his foot down. And once he did, nobody looked able to do anything to stop him. The 14:56 he ran between 30km and 35km was the fastest split of the race by some way, and it gave him a lead of 33 seconds over Chebii, with Nyokaye 25 seconds further back.

As the men behind him started to suffer, another fast 5km of 15:09 gave Omullu an unassailable lead of 2:19 at 40 km.

Maintaining that pace throughout the final part of the race, Omullu crossed the line on the bank of the Vistula river as the winner in 2:08:55. The time represented a 24-second improvement on the PB he set while winning in Warsaw last year, and was the second-fastest time in Warsaw Marathon's history.

As Chebii and Nyokaye started to tire, the more experienced Kimwetich gained ground on them. With his better pace judgment, he moved up to third place, just eight seconds behind Chebii, at 40km.

In the end, however, it was Chebii who held on to take second. His time of 2:11:26 was a PB by over three minutes. Kimwetich reached the finish 23 seconds later to take third.

Despite a major crisis in the final kilometres, Sammy Nyokaye finished fourth with 2:14:18, although Albert Matebor chased him hard to reach the finish only 10 seconds behind.

Jared Shegumo was the top Polish finisher in sixth with 2:15:05.

KIBIWOT SHOWS HER CLASS 

With defending Warsaw winner Ruth Wanjiru a late withdrawal in the women's race, two athletes ran away from the field early on. Tizifa Niguse of Ethiopia and Gladys Kibiwot of Bahrain were nearly half a minute ahead of their next rival after just 5km of running.

The leading two were steadily extending their lead throughout the opening half of the race. At 10km their split was 34:39 and the lead over marathon debutante Jane Muia grew to 76 seconds. By the time the leaders reached halfway in 1:13:54, the two leaders were nearly three minutes ahead of Muia.

The pace started to drop in the second half, but the situation at the front remained unchanged as Niguse and Kibiwot reached 30km in 1:46:20. Then, just like the men's race, there was a breakaway before the 35km point.

While both women at the front started to suffer the effects of the pace, it looked like Niguse had more strength left. The Ethiopian ran away from her rival and reached the 35km already with a 32-second lead.

But this was not the end of the story. After building the lead, Niguse started to lose it just as rapidly. Just before the 40km point, the lead changed hands. At the final split it was Kibiwot who led in 2:26:57 by 12 seconds.

From then on, the lead continued growing and Kibiwot reached the finish in 2:36:34, a full 57 seconds before Niguse. Despite the significant slowing in the second half, both runners set personal bests.

Kenya's Jane Muio significantly reduced the gap to the top two in the final kilometers, but still ended up well behind in third place with 2:39:11 - IAAF

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James Mwangi Wangari of Kenya clocked the second fastest time in the world this year at the Copenhagen Half Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, on Sunday (18).

In just his second race over the distance, the 22-year-old Kenyan reached the finish line in 59:07, knocking seven seconds from the course record set last year by compatriot Bedan Karoki.

Karoki was in the race looking to defend his title, but couldn’t keep up with Wangari’s aggressive early race front-running.

A group of 18 passed five kilometres at a fast 13:43-13:46 clip, a pack size that wasn't particularly to Wangari's liking. Upping the tempo, he was well clear and on his own five kilometres later, reaching 10 kilometres in a blazing 27:15, 25 seconds faster than this year's 10km world lead and 13 seconds clear of the seven men who made up the chase group.

By 15 kilometres, reached in 41:32, he had built a 29-second lead on Stephen Kosgei Kibet and five others struggling to hold on. His lead was reduced to 21 seconds at 20 kilometres when Karoki made a brief foray to the head of the chase pack. 

But Wangari held his advantage to the line beating Kibet, who clocked 59:28, by 21 seconds.

”I am in a very good shape,” said Wangari, who won the Stramilano Half Marathon last March in his debut over the distance, clocking 59:12.

“The speed was excellent in the first half. But the wind was very strong. I really feel I am in shape to beat the world record.”

Five others, all Kenyan, came home within an hour. Albert Kangogo was third in 59:29, with Gilbert Masai and Karoki next in 59:31 and 59:32 respectively. Abraham Kiptoo was sixth in 59:36 and Edwin Kipsang Rotich seventh in 59:54.

LATE RACE BREAK DECISIVE FOR GEBREKIDAN

The women's race was closer and involved just four lead actors: Ethiopian Hiwot Gebrekidan, Kenyans Veronicah Wanjiru and Gladys Chesir, and Eunice Chumba of Bahrain.

Just one second separated the quartet through five kilometres, reached in 15:30, and 10 kilometres, reached in 31:41. Chumba and Chesir, the winner last year, were pushing the pace as the foursome went through 15 kilometres, after which Gebrekidan made a move that would prove decisive.

The 21-year-old built a narrow three-second lead by 20 kilometres, reached in 1:04:39, with Chumba, Wanjiru and Chesir following two seconds apart. Gebrekidan held on to win in 1:08:00, knocking 29 seconds from Chesir's course record, and a whopping two minutes and 17 seconds from her previous best.

Chumba was second in 1:08:04, with Wanjiru third another two seconds behind. Chesir faded over the final kilometre to clock 1:08:20 to finish fourth - IAAF

LEADING RESULTS

Men
1 James Mwangi Wangari (KEN) 59:07
2 Stephen Kosgei Kibet (KEN) 59:28
3 Albert Kangogo (KEN) 59:29
4 Gilbert Masai (KEN) 59:31
5 Bedan Karoki Muchiri (KEN) 59:36
6 Abraham Cheroben Kiptum (KEN) 59:36
7 Edwin Rotich (KEN) 59:54

Women
1 Hiwot Gebrekidan Gebremaryam (ETH) 1:08:00
2 Eunice Chumba (BRN) 1:08:04
3 Veronicah Wanjiru (KEN) 1:08:06
4 Gladys Chesir (KEN) 1:08:20
5 Bornes Kitur (KEN) 1:10:00
6 Guteni Shone (ETH) 1:10:23
7 Dibabe Kuma (ETH) 1:10:47

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