In Israeli First, Marathon Runner Chemtai Salpeter Snags World Championship Bronze

Lonah Chemtai Salpeter wins Israel's fourth medal in the overall history of the World Athletics Championships, after finishing third in Oregon

Ido Rakovsky
Ido Rakovsky
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Lonah Chemtai Salpeter of Team Israel celebrates as she wins bronze in the Women's Marathon.
Lonah Chemtai Salpeter of Team Israel celebrates as she wins bronze in the Women's Marathon.Credit: Carmen Mandato - AFP
Ido Rakovsky
Ido Rakovsky

Kenyan-born Israeli runner Lonah Chemtai Salpeter won on Monday a bronze medal in the women's marathon at the 2022 World Athletics Championships.

This is only Israel's fourth medal at the World Championships, a biennial athletics competition, following two wins by Aleksandr Averbukh in pole vault (bronze in 1999 and silver in 2001) and by Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko in triple jump (silver medal in 2015).

Chemtai Salpeter clocked in at 2:20:18, just behind Ethiopian Gotytom Gebreslase and Kenyan Judith Jeptum Korir who took home the gold and silver medals, respectively.

Kenya's Judith Jeptum Korir (left), Ethiopia's Gotytom Gebreslase (center) and Israel's Lonah Chemtai Salpeter embrace after crossing the finish line in the women's marathon final during the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon on Monday.Credit: JIM WATSON - AFP

"It's more than big, it's huge," said Rogel Nachum of the Israeli Athletic Association, "This is one of the most prestigious medals out there. It's a difficult run on the physical level, and there's no doubt that Chemtai Salpeter has entered the all-time top three of Israeli athletics."

Prime Minister Yair Lapid extended his congratulations to Chemtai Salpeter on Twitter for her "historic medal." "Lonah's willpower and determination bring pride to Israeli athletics and to the State of Israel as a whole. Lonah, you're a champion!" he wrote.

Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper congratulated Chemtai Salpeter in a Facebook post, and detailed how she came to represent Israel in the race.

"Lonah Chemtai Salpeter was born to a local tribe in Kenya," he wrote. "She arrived in Israel to work as a housekeeper for the consul from Kenya. While casually running in the park, someone saw her talent, and connected her with a professional running club. From there, she became an Israeli and an elite athlete. A legend come true," he wrote.

"Today, Lonah won the bronze medal in the World Athletics Championship, and she proved that talent, determination and perseverance will take you to the greatest heights," he continued. "Congratulations Lonah. We're proud of you!"

Gebreslase broke away with about two kilometers to go and never gave Korir a chance down the final stretch, smashing Briton Paula Radcliffe's previous mark of 2:20:57 set in 2005.

Lonah Salpeter seized a chance for the third spot on the podium after Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh fell off the lead pack with less than 10 kilometers to go.

Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich, who won three years ago, dropped out at around the 18-kilometer mark due to stomach issues, as the runners battled under sunny but pristine conditions, with temperatures hovering above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10C) in Eugene, Oregon.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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