Israel’s 2022 European Athletics Championships marathon silver medallist Maru Teferi showed true grit to recover quickly from a mid-race fall to come through to finish second once again over the classic distance at the World Athletics Championships on Sunday.
Teferi crossed the line in 2:09:12, just 19 seconds behind Uganda's marathon winner Victor Kiplangat.
“Today was very hard for everybody. I tried to do my best in this hot weather, and I am glad I managed to finish with the silver. I wanted to get the best out of me and this competition was my biggest target,” said the exhausted but delighted Teferi.
“I fell down just after the 30km and tore my t-shirt. Somebody touched me and I just fell, but I tried to move on to finish the race in the best possible condition. I want to dedicate this medal to my country. And I also had a huge support in the crowd as my wife [Israeli international Selamawit Teferi who was fifth in the Munich 2022 10,000m] came here to support me and watch the race,” he added.
Teferi was part of a big group of 31 runners that went through the halfway point together in 1:05:02, the relatively sedate time a reflection of the championship setting and conditions which saw temperatures up to 25 degrees Celsius and 75% humidity even with A 7am start.
The relentless pace in the conditions soon started to take its toll though as the pack broke up over the course of the next five kilometres.
Kiplangat led a leading group of six that went through 30km in 1:32:14 while Teferi at this point was running slightly more conservatively in a five-strong third group 11 seconds behind the leaders.
Fortunately for Teferi, his dramatic fall happened at a brief point in the race when the pace has eased off very slightly and he was able to quickly rejoin the leaders – some of whom were looking around to see what had happened and clearely relaxed for a few hundred metres – and without undue stress apart from suffering a few small bumps and bruises.
In the 32nd kilometre, Kiplangat pushed hard again but by this time Teferi was back into his rhythm and he wisely opted to run his own race and didn’t follow on the heels of the Ugandan.
He went through 35km in fifth place in 1:47.15, 22 seconds adrift of Kiplangat but then gradually started to overhaul the men in front of him.
By 38km, Teferi was up to third and looking fresh – or as fresh as possible in the sweltering conditions – and with just under 200 metres to go he went past Ethiopia’s flagging Leul Gebresilasie to secure his second major championships silver medal in 12 months.
After the two silver medals, the target is clear, the Olympic Games next year. Everything is possible. I will try to do my best, train very hard and fight for gold,” said Teferi.
He has yet to decide on his next marathon outing but invitations are now sure to come in quick and fast, especially as his last marathon prior to Sunday was winning the famous Fukuoka Marathon in Japan last December in a national record 2:06:43.
France’s Hassan Chahadi finished seventh with 2:10:45 and Italy’s 2014 European marathon champion Daniele Meucci was tenth in 2:11:06 to make it three Europeans in the Budapest 23 top ten.
World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 full results and timetable can be found here.
Phil Minshull for European Athletics