Athletics: Veteran Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele narrowly misses world record in Berlin Marathon win

Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele crosses the finish line for the men's elite race during the Berlin Marathon on Sept 29, 2019.
Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele crosses the finish line for the men's elite race during the Berlin Marathon on Sept 29, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

BERLIN (REUTERS) - Former Olympic and world champion Kenenisa Bekele staged a thrilling comeback to win the Berlin Marathon on Sunday (Sept 29), recording the second-fastest time ever to finish just two seconds short of the world record.

The 37-year-old Ethiopian, winner in Berlin in 2016 and world-record holder over 5,000 and 10,000 metres, finished in two hours, one minute and 41 seconds, narrowly missing Eliud Kipchoge's world record.

The Kenyan, 34, who set the mark in Berlin last year, was absent to prepare for his renewed sub-two-hour marathon attempt in Vienna on Oct 12.

Bekele was part of a group, including countrymen Birhanu Legese and Sisay Lemma, that quickly broke from the pack with a quick pace.

Legese, winner of this year's Tokyo marathon, then gradually shook off Bekele and then Lemma after the 30km mark.

But Bekele battled back, leaving Lemma in his wake and then reining in Legese to cruise ahead but missed the world record by two seconds despite a thrilling sprint towards the finish line.