Olympics: Estonia's Luik triplets make history in Rio marathon

Marathon runners (from left) Leila, Lily and Liina Luik  of Estonia made history by becoming the first set of triplets to compete in the Olympics on Aug 14.
Marathon runners (from left) Leila, Lily and Liina Luik of Estonia made history by becoming the first set of triplets to compete in the Olympics on Aug 14.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Leila, Liina and Lily Luik made Olympic history on Sunday (Aug 14) when they became the first triplets to compete in the Games marathon.

The 30-year-old Estonians, identically petite, platinum blonde and blue-eyed, finished far behind Kenyan winner Jemima Sumgong.

But they were elated with their performances despite Liina failing to finish in Rio's searing heat.

"It was so hard. I saw everybody stopping and everybody suffered," said Lily, the first of the triplets home in 97th place in 2hr 48min 29sec. She was more than 24 minutes off Sumgong's winning time.

Lily added: "When Liina fell behind I was like 'come on, come on' but for me it's so sad because you have to push to the end. I thought that maybe she's coming and we could finish together but it was very tough race for us."

Leila, who finished 114th in 2:54.38, added: "This is amazing. We started running professionally at 24, we want to inspire all people who are afraid to start so late." The triplets aside, two sets of twins completed the course.

North Korea's Kim sisters, Hye-Song in the pink shoes, Hye-Gyong in the blue, went on to finish 10th and 11th respectively after being part of the leading pack for a long period of the race.

 

Germany's Hahner twins, Anna and Lisa, crossed the line together to finish 81st and 82nd.

In all 23 runners failed to finish, but among the 133 who did was Sara al-Attar, flying the flag for Saudi Arabia with a time of 3:16.11.

Attar placed 132nd after pipping last-placed finisher Ly Nary of Cambodia by four seconds.

Attar, who has Saudi-US nationality, turned heads in the head-to-toe outfit she patched together with her mother to race in the 800 metres at the 2012 London Games, where she was one of the first Saudi women Olympians.

This time Attar, now 23, competed in the marathon thanks to a special invitation from the International Olympic Committee in the hope she could inspire young girls in the conservative kingdom.

At the business end of the marathon, Sumgong made the most of a kick with 6km to run to win Kenya's first ever Olympic women's marathon gold.

Sumgong, also winner of this year's London marathon, timed 2:24.04, with Bahrain's Kenya-born Eunice Kirwa taking silver and defending world champion Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia claiming bronze.