Athletics: Geoffrey Kirui wins world marathon title after see-saw duel with Tamirat Tola

Kenya's Geoffrey Kipkorir Kirui poses with his national flag after winning the men's marathon athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in central London on Aug 6, 2017.
Kenya's Geoffrey Kipkorir Kirui poses with his national flag after winning the men's marathon athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in central London on Aug 6, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Kenya's Geoffrey Kipkorir Kirui prevailed in a compelling African duel with Ethiopian Tamirat Tola on the streets of London to win the men's marathon at the World Athletics Championships on Sunday.

Kirui, victor at the Boston Marathon in April, finally broke Tola, the fastest man in the field, with 8.05 km of the 42.1km course left after they had gone head-to-head over the second half of the race.

At the 30.5km mark, Tola made his decisive effort and sped away from the 24-year-old Kenyan, but within 3.2km, Kirui had hauled back the lead before surging away immediately and emphatically.

Kenya's fifth men's world champion at the distance eventually crossed the line at Tower Bridge in 2hr 8min 27sec, finishing 1min 22sec ahead of Tola (2:09:49).

The fading Ethiopian just held on for silver by two seconds from the fast-finishing Tanzanian Alphonce Simbu.

Britain's Callum Hawkins created the biggest cheers from the big crowds lining the streets when he came home in a remarkable fourth place in 2:10:17 amid familiar African domination.