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World Athletic Championships: Ghirmay Ghebreslassie Wins Beijing Gold Marathon

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Eritrea's Ghirmay Ghebreslassie runs with a flag after winning the men’s marathon at the World Athletic Championships at the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. David J. Phillip AP Photo

BEIJING

With the heavily favored Kenyans wiped out of the men's marathon on Saturday, it came down to Olympic champions Jessica Ennis-Hill and David Rudisha to restore some normalcy on the opening day of the world championships. Rudisha, one of the many great runners on the Kenyan team, led from start to finish with his majestic stride in full motion to reach the semifinals of the 800 meters.

World-record holder Dennis Kimetto and Kenyan teammate Wilson Kipsang dropped out of the race while Mark Korir finished 22nd, leaving gold to Eritrean teenager Ghirmay Ghebreslassie.

"We had a lot of hope of course in the marathon," Rudisha said of his distance-running teammates. "We know our guys are good."

In a slow race that should have favored the experienced Kenyan veterans, it was a 19-year-old novice running in his third marathon that prevailed to become the youngest man to win the event at the world championships.

Ghebreslassie finished in 2 hours, 12 minutes, 27 seconds, holding off Yemane Tsegay of Ethiopia by 40 seconds. Munyo Solomon Mutai of Uganda was third.