Lemma wins London Marathon, off podium as COVID precaution

National Sports

LONDON (AP)Sisay Lemma won the London Marathon for the first time on Sunday but was kept off the podium due to coronavirus protocols.

Testing negative allowed the 30-year-old Lemma to race after being deemed a close contact of fellow Ethiopian Kinde Atanaw, who withdrew after a positive test on Saturday.

But as a precaution Lemma was taken back to his hotel after completing the 26.2-mile (42.2-kilometer) route in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 1 second.

Vincent Kipchumba of Kenya, who finished 27 seconds behind Lemma, and third-placed Mosinet Geremew of Ethiopia were allowed on the podium. The top place was taken by Lemma’s agent, Gianni Demadonna.

In the women’s race, Joyciline Jepkosgei was victorious on her debut after opting to to compete in London over the defense of her New York title next month. The Kenyan won in 2:17:43. Degitu Azimeraw of Ethiopia was second with compatriot Ashete Bekere third.

There were Swiss winners of the wheelchair races with Marcel Hug claiming his third men’s title in London, while Manuela Schar triumphed for the second time in the women’s race.

It was the first full-scale staging of the London Marathon in more than two years due to the pandemic, with around 40,000 runners joining some of the world’s best on the route from Blackheath in southeast London to The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace in the center of the city.

An eye-catching finish in the men’s race saw British doctor Phil Sesemann mark his 29th birthday by crossing in seventh in his first-ever marathon.

He ran a time of 2:12:58, which secures qualification for the European Championships and Commonwealth Games for England. Sesemann, who ran in the 3,000 meters at the European indoor championships earlier this year, trains with his dog Kipchoge, named after marathon great Eliud Kipchoge.

”There have been challenges but more around COVID risk for myself,” said Sesemann, who has worked at Leeds General Infirmary in northern England throughout the pandemic. ”I have done all this training and been trying to avoid catch COVID beforehand. It wouldn’t be worth it.”

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