Commonwealth Games 2002
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Athletics Sunday, 28 July, 2002, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
Naali wins marathon of confusion
Naali did not realise the race had finished
Naali did not realise the race had finished

Francis Naali of Tanzania won the men's marathon in Manchester on Sunday to give his country its first win in the event at the Commonwealth Games since 1978.

The 30-year-old (2:11.58) beat home Kenya's Joshua Chelanga (2:12.45) while Andrew Letherby of Australia (2:13.23) produced a storming finish to deprive another Kenyan Eric Wainaina of the bronze.

Both Naali and Chelanga kept running past the finish line, past the hurdles set up for the decathlon, believing they had another lap to run.

They were eventually stopped by officials and Naali then went on a belated lap of honour.

Naali had looked to be in trouble nearing the stadium but Chelanga also threw out alarm signals, looking over his shoulder to see if there was any danger to his silver.

open quote
It was a difficult race but I ran very well
end quote
Francis Naali

Olympic silver medallist Wainaina was in the bronze medal position entering the stadium but he was caught by the fast-finishing Australian Letherby.

Naali was delighted with the first major gold of his career.

"I am very happy. It was a difficult race but I ran very well," said the Tanzanian.

"I am happy that a Kenyan was second because Tanzania and Kenya are neighbours."

Naali won Tanzania's second athletics medal of the Games as John Yuda won bronze in the men's 10,000 metres.

No household name

Letherby attributed his astonishing sprint finish, which put him four seconds clear of Wainaina, to training in Colorado where he lives with his American wife.

"Training at altitude seems to be working for me," he said.

"I knew I was capable of a medal and with a mile to go I knew I was in with a chance. Then I just went for it.

"I am a long way from being a household name in Australia, but this is a start," said the 28-year-old.

Top English hope Mark Hudspith dropped out in the early stages while his compatriots Dominic Bannister (2:19.31) and Stuart Hall (2:19.53) were 10th and 12th.

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