Queen of hearts

Namibia’s marathon specialist Helalia Johannes became the first Namibian to win a bronze medal in the marathon discipline at the IAAF world championship in Qatar on Saturday.

30 September 2019 | Sports

JESSE JACKSON KAURAISA



Helalia Johannes has proven to be getting better with age after clocking 2:34:15 to finish third in a tough race at the World Athletics Championships.

Kenyan Ruth Chepnegetich won the championship, clocking 2:32:43, followed by Bahrain's Rose Chelimo in second with a time of 2:33:36 and Kenya's Edna Kiplagat in fourth with a time of 2:35:36.

The hot temperatures in Doha proved too difficult for many of the athletes who could not finish the race.

A group of 28 runners did not complete the race out of the 68 women who were lined up.

But Johannes kept her composure and remained in the leading group from the start.

The 39-year old’s composure and calculation ensured that she beat veteran Edna Kiplagat in the final stretch.

Humidity of more than 73 percent and temperatures of almost 33 degrees Celsius dogged the race, specially started at midnight to avoid peak heat, as it meandered along a course on Doha's Corniche coast road.

Johannes said hydration also played a key role in her strong showing.

"I cannot say I enjoyed the event, but there was a song that says 'I must finish'," she said.

"I didn't miss any water point."

No matter how they spin it, the IAAF's plan to run the race at night to beat the heat was something less than a success.

As the federation's president, Sebastian Coe, paced near the finish line, his pink button-down polo completely sweated through, runner after runner buckled over, or tumbled to the ground, and had to be placed gingerly into golf carts, or wheelchairs, and transported off the course into the medical tent.

- Additional reporting by Nampa/AFP

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