Tiki Gelana, revelling in the torrential downpours that soaked London, overcame a mid-race fall to become the second Ethiopian woman to win Olympic marathon gold on Sunday.
Gritting her teeth and pumping her arms, the 24-year-old held off Kenyan Priscah Jeptoo to win a soggy race around a Central London course taking in numerous iconic landmarks, including Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament.
Gelana clocked two hours 23 minutes and seven seconds, finishing five seconds ahead of Jeptoo who was unable to reel in her African rival in the finishing straight on The Mall.
Her margin of victory was the smallest in an Olympic women’s marathon since it was first held in 1984.
“I love running in the rain,” Gelana, who fell and hurt her elbow after making contact with another runner at a drinks station, told reporters.
“The rain makes it very interesting. As soon as the race started, I said to myself ‘thank god’. I really loved it (the rain). I have been doing that since I was a small child.
“My elbow is still injured. But I didn’t feel any pain during the race.”
Gelana, the niece of Sydney 2000 men’s marathon champion Gezhagne Abera, pushed clear in the final two kilometres, shaking off the persistent Jeptoo.
Casting anxious glances over her shoulder at her rival in the final 200 metres, Gelana raised her arms in triumph before breaking the tape and collapsing to the ground.
She soon regained her composure and celebrated by draping herself in an Ethiopian flag and embracing her supporters.
Russian Tatyana Petrova Arkhipova won bronze in 2:23:29 but there was disappointment for race favourite Mary Keitany of Kenya.
The twice London marathon winner was in the leading group of four with around three kilometres left but dropped out of contention to finish fourth, 49 seconds behind Gelana.