Uganda’s Victor Kiplangat emerged victorious in the men’s marathon at the World Athletics Championships held in Budapest this past Sunday, demonstrating an astonishing burst of speed in the final leg of the race that left his competitors trailing far behind.
The reigning Commonwealth champion completed the challenging course through the streets of the Hungarian capital in an impressive time of 2 hours, 8 minutes, and 53 seconds. Kiplangat’s decisive move occurred within the last 15 kilometers of the race, a strategic moment that secured his triumph.
Maru Teferi of Israel, originally from Ethiopia, continued to build on his European silver medal from the previous year, securing second place with a time of 2:09:12. Meanwhile, Ethiopian athlete Leul Gebresilase secured the bronze medal with a time of 2:09:19.
Overjoyed by his victory, Kiplangat shared, “This has been a lifelong aspiration that has finally come to fruition. After winning the Commonwealth Games last year, I set my sights on becoming the world champion this year. My prayers have been answered, and I now aim to achieve Olympic champion status in Paris next year.”
Kiplangat also revealed, “Today was a tough race due to the scorching heat, but I was well-prepared for these conditions. I knew success was possible because of my rigorous training.”
Strategically timed acceleration played a pivotal role in Kiplangat’s success. Joined by his teammate Stephen Kissa and competitors such as Gebresilase, Tsegaye Getachew, Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia, and Kenya’s Timothy Kiplagat, they maintained a close grouping until the 30-kilometer mark, completing it in 1 hour and 32 minutes.
Unfortunately, Kissa suffered a fall after catching Kiplagat’s heel, leaving Kiplangat to break away alongside Gebresilase. In the ensuing 5 kilometers, the 23-year-old Kiplangat executed a well-executed surge that enabled him to distance himself from the leading pack, with Gebresilase falling 15 seconds behind.
Reflecting on his strategy, Kiplangat noted, “Upon reaching the 30-kilometer mark, I sensed my strength and decided to push forward. I had ample energy, which allowed me to make that decisive move. At the 35-kilometer mark, I found the strength to surge again. This was my game plan, and I executed it successfully. The pace was demanding, but I always believed I had the endurance to sustain it.”
Teferi, who endured a fall around the 30-kilometer point that left his running attire torn, showcased remarkable resilience as he advanced in the rankings and clinched the silver medal. Meanwhile, reigning world champion Tamirat Tola withdrew from the race due to stomach discomfort. Tola explained, “I was doing my best and felt strong until the 30-kilometer mark. After that, I began experiencing discomfort in my stomach. I hadn’t slept the entire night due to stomach issues, and despite feeling nauseous, I couldn’t vomit due to the high salt content in the rice I had consumed.”
Despite sweltering conditions, Teferi expressed his gratitude for securing the silver medal, stating, “The weather conditions were incredibly challenging for everyone. I’m thankful I was able to finish in second place. This competition was a major goal for me, and I’m delighted to have achieved my dream.”
Kiplangat’s victory stands as a testament to his exceptional preparation, strategic acumen, and formidable determination.