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Solomon Mutai Wins Silver For Uganda In Marathon

Munyo Solomon Mutai capped a fine performance by Uganda in the Commonwealth Games by grabbing a silver medal as sweltering conditions caused carnage in the marathon on Sunday.

Mutai took silver in two hours, 19 minutes and 2 seconds, behind Michael Shelly of Australia who retained his title in 2:16:46. The 25-year-old Ugandan improved on his 4th place at the last Commonwealth games in Glasgow and took the country’s medals tally to six.

Scotland’s Robbie Simpson took bronze (2:19:36).

Alex Chesakit came in 7th in 2:23:06 while Chemonges did not finish the race. The marathon was the final event for Uganda at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

 

Uganda has won six medals at this games – three gold, a silver and two bronze – one better than at the last Games in Glasgow. They are 15th on the medals table.

Earlier, Scottish runner Callum Hawkins collapsed while closing on victory as sweltering conditions. Hawkins was leading by more than two minutes when his legs gave way and he crashed over the roadside kerb, as temperatures edged towards 30 degrees Celsius (85 Fahrenheit) on Australia’s Gold Coast.

 

The 25-year-old struggled to his feet to continue but was clearly in distress and with just over a mile (two kilometres) to go, he stumbled heavily into a roadside barrier, banging his head as he fell.

 

There was an anxious wait before any assistance reached the stricken Hawkins, by which time Australia’s Shelley was passing the scene on his way to winning gold.

 

Hawkins was taken to hospital by ambulance and Team Scotland confirmed the runner’s health was not in any serious danger.

 

“Callum has been taken to hospital for medical review,” team officials said in a statement. “There are no major concerns at this stage.”

 

After retaining his Commonwealth title, Shelley said he had also been struggling with the hot conditions.

 

“I wasn’t sure what was going on,” the Australian said about seeing Hawkins in trouble.

 

“I had a couple of mates around Main Beach who said Callum was in a bit of trouble. They told me to keep going and gave me encouragement.

 

“I saw him and just tried to hang on. When I was coming down the home straight I tried to accelerate but I was just gone.”

 

“I’m glad to be finished to be honest,” added Shelley. “I thought hopefully I can get to the finish line because I was starting to get cramps in my hands.”

 

Viewers watching the race on TV slammed Games organisers for their slow medical response with many horrified that fans took photos of the fallen runner.

 

Hawkins was by no means the only athlete to suffer in the heat — Tanzania’s Stephano Huche Gwandu was taken away in a wheelchair after taking a tumble as he crossed the finish line.

 

Fellow Tanzanian Saidi Juma Makula collapsed close to the finish line before being helped into an ambulance — one of seven of the 24 starters who failed to complete the race.

 

Helalia Johannes won the women’s race in 2:32.40, becoming Namibia’s first female gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games.

 

Uganda history in marathon

 

The marathon has provided Uganda most medals at the World Championships –  two out of the country’s five so far. Add the gold from the 2012 Olympics, and the 42.19 km event is alway one of Uganda’s main medal hopes.

 

But, gold success has come in other track events, especially the 10,000m and the luck of the Commonwealth marathon will wait for another games.

 

Mutai, World championship 2015 bronze medalist, improved  on his 4th place in the last Commonwealth games in Glasgow, one of the best performances in the marathon for Uganda. Abraham Kiplimo got the first marathon medal, a bronze.

 

A year earlier, Mutai had finished 8th at the Rio Olympics.

 

Uganda’s marathon team would have been the strongest ever if the athletics governing body UAF had agreed to a request by triple-gold medalist Moses Kipsiro to feature in the marathon, and not the 10,000m race in which he had been placed. He was dropped from the team altogether.

The three marathon runners Uganda has fielded in Gold Coast, are the same team that competed at the last World Championships in London last year.  Uganda’s Solomon Mutai finished 11th in 2:13:29, and Robert Chemonges 43rd in in  2:21:24. Cheskit fell out.

Meanwhile, it has been a day of mixed results for Uganda Saturday, the penultimate day of the competition.

Uganda Rugby Cranes were shot down early, falling 31-5 to Wales, 54-0 by Fiji and 33-10 to Sri Lanka.

The track and field women’s relay team came 8th in the 400m relay  final while Julite Chekwel came 4th in 15:30.17. Mercyline Chelangat came 11th in 15:50.01.

The curtain will draw on the XXI Commonwealth Games later in the day but not before one final celebration in true Gold Coast style.

Eleven days after a spectacular opening, the Closing Ceremony will deliver a fitting tribute to the remarkable athletic feats, extraordinary teamwork and marvellous community participation on show throughout the Games.

Carrara Stadium will host the Closing Ceremony with an emotional, fun and dazzling finale.

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