Photo by Luciano Lima/Getty Images.
Tigst Assefa Shatters Women's Marathon World Record in Berlin
Ethiopian runner Tigst Assefa's epic triumph in Berlin breaks world records and Secures her spot on the road to the Paris Olympics.
In a stunning display of athleticism, Tigst Assefa of Ethiopia obliterated the women's marathon world record in Berlin on Sunday, slashing more than two minutes from the previous mark to achieve an official time of two hours, eleven minutes, and fifty-three seconds.
Assefa, who had already set a course record with a personal best the year before, commenced the race with an electrifying pace that gradually left her competition in the dust. Her incredible performance shattered Kenyan athlete Brigid Kosgei's 2019 record of two hours, fourteen minutes, and four seconds.
What makes Assefa's achievement even more remarkable is that her split times actually improved after reaching the halfway point. The 26-year-old, who had openly expressed her ambition to break the record, admitted her surprise at surpassing it by such a significant margin. Reflecting on her accomplishment, Assefa, who had previously specialized in the 800-meter race, credited her success to tireless dedication and hard work, likely securing her spot on the Ethiopian Olympic team for the 2024 Paris Olympics. She humbly stated, "I have set a mark now; the decision does not lie with me but with officials."
With her record-breaking time, Assefa not only set a benchmark for the upcoming Paris Olympics but also nearly guaranteed her place on the Ethiopian Olympic squad for 2024, pending the National Committee's selection.
Assefa's remarkable achievement overshadowed the historic fifth consecutive victory of Kenyan marathon world-record holder Eliud Kipchoge at the Berlin Marathon on Sunday. Kipchoge, a dominant figure in the sport, remained philosophical in victory, emphasizing the importance of learning from each race and victory. "I'm very happy to win for the fifth time in Berlin, and I shall use these lessons in my preparation for the Olympics," he remarked.
Notably, Tigst Assefa, a former 800-meter specialist, only ventured into marathon racing in April of the previous year. Her relentless pursuit of excellence was evident in her return to Berlin, where she set a blistering early pace, reaching the halfway mark in just one hour, six minutes, and twenty seconds. At that stage, she was among six women on world record pace, and she maintained her remarkable speed, remaining only three seconds per kilometer slower than Kipchoge's pace at the same point in the race.
While Kipchoge clinched his victory in the men's event, he was unable to improve upon his own world record. The 38-year-old Kenyan missed his previous best from Berlin in 2022 by just over a minute and a half, finishing with a commendable time of two hours, two minutes, and forty-two seconds. Debutants Vincent Kipkemoi of Kenya (2:03:13) and Tadase Takele of Ethiopia (2:03:24) secured second and third place, respectively.
Kipchoge's triumph in Berlin now establishes him as the most decorated champion in the history of the Berlin Marathon, surpassing Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie's four consecutive victories between 2006 and 2009. Kipchoge's wins in Berlin occurred in 2015, 2017, 2018, 2022, and this year's race. As he looks ahead to his pursuit of a third Olympic marathon medal in Paris next year, Kipchoge remains resolute and focused, even if he did not come close to his record-setting performance from the previous year in Berlin, with a final time of two hours, two minutes, and forty-two seconds.
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