Belgium's Koen Naert was never troubled while Volha Mazuronak of Belarus overcame a late scare as they won men's and women's marathon gold in contrasting style yesterday at the European championships. Fancied Naert, 28, left all rivals far behind en route to a championship record and personal best despite hot conditions on the loop course in central Berlin which the runners had to cover four times for the 42.195-kilometres distance.
Mazuronak, 29, first suffered from nose bleed and then almost missed the penultimate turn but regrouped quickly and then sprinted away from her last rival, French Clemence Calvin, on the home stretch to live up to her top billing. Naert was on his own at around 35 kilometres as he clocked 2 hours 9 minutes 51 seconds over the classic 42.195 kilometres, screaming in delight as he crossed the line with a Belgian flag.
"This is incredible! Coming out here and do this time, it hasn't really sunk in," said Naert, the first Belgian to win the race since Karel Lismont in 1971 in Helsinki.