Around the halfway point of the race, the Ethiopian was knocked down by another runner as she reached for her water bottle, a hard fall that bloodied her right elbow. Already aching, Gelana thought about pulling out. Instead, she found new motivation, and headed on down the road.
Gelana recovered from the fall to win the Olympic marathon on Sunday in a race that began in a downpour, was briefly brightened by sunshine and ended in another drenching rain.
She was soaked as she crossed the finish line, but she didn’t seem to mind, raising her hands high to celebrate after navigating the rainy course in 2 hours, 23 minutes, 7 seconds to hold off Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya by five seconds. Tatyana Petrova Arkhipova of Russia won the bronze in the typical London weather.
“When I fell, I said, ‘Oh, wow, I’m not going to finish,”‘ Gelana said through an interpreter. “But I just concentrated on running. All of a sudden, I made it.”
Gelana said she loved running in the rain. “I have been doing that since I was a small child,” she said, a bandage on her elbow. “I enjoyed my run.”
There was a small group of runners in a bunched pack over the last three miles. But with the finish around the bend, Gelana made her move, grimacing as she surged to the front. With the rain picking up – going from a light drizzle to a deluge – she kept glancing over her shoulder to see if Jeptoo was gaining ground.
She wasn’t. No one could catch Gelana as she easily coasted across the line to win the biggest race of her life and Ethiopia’s second Olympic gold medal in the women’s event.