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Kenyan Runners: Final Frames Of the Olympic Games

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Lee Griggs, Kumiko Makihara and Ellie Mcgrath/Seoul

“I have accomplished my dream now,” said Kenya’s Paul Ereng after his stunning upset victory in the 800-meter race. He had completed the two laps in 1:43.45, comfortably ahead of defending champion Joaquim Cruz of Brazil and the celebrated Said Aouita of Morocco. Ereng, 20, a sophomore at the University of Virginia, began competing in the 800 meters only this year and had not been expected to place in Seoul.Instead he led a return of Kenya to the head of the distance pack.

Kenyan runners, in fact, took gold in four out of six distance events, with Peter Rono winning the 1,500 meters, John Ngugi the 5,000 meters and Julius Kariuki the steeplechase. Rono attributed his compatriots’ success to the high level of competition they face in their own country. Said he: “We have many young talents back home, and it is not easy to make the Olympic team. I felt it was harder than winning here.”

In the marathon, Kenyan Douglas Wakiihuri finished second. The great final race of the Games was won by Italy’s Gelindo Bordin, who came on at the end. The last 2,000 meters “was like a war,” said the exhausted, exhilerated champion.

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