Kenyan-born Romanian breaks Seoul marathon course record
Joan Chelimo celebrated her new status as a Romanian citizen in style after she smashed the course record to win the Seoul Marathon that was held on Sunday, April 17 in Seoul, South Korea.
Until recently, Chelimo represented Kenya in marathon and her last triumph as a Kenyan runner came way back in 2018 when she won the Boston Half Marathon.
The 31-year-old who has specialized in half marathons came into the race with the third fasted time in the distance (2:20.57) and faced stiff competition from Ethiopia’s Guteni Shone and Sutuma Asefa.
The Romanian clocked 2:18.03 to set a personal best time and also smash the old course record of 2:19.51 that was set by Chinese Zhou Chunxiu in 2006.
In completely different colours, Chelimo could not hide her joy as she promised more great races in the future.
“Today, in Seoul, I ran my first official marathon under the tricolor flag, proudly representing Romania. I am extremely happy about the new personal record, 2:18:04 and that I managed to set a new Romanian record, surpassing the performance of a sportsman that I admire so much, Constantina Di țăă. Thank you to my sponsor Adidas, I thank everyone who believed in me, my team and all the Romanians who sent me messages of encouragement and congratulations. I hope that like Constantine, I will manage to get the Olympic medal for Romania in 2024!
Today, in Seoul, I proudly ran my first official marathon for Romania. I am extremely happy for the win, the PB and for setting a new National Record for Romania 2:18:04. The previous record was set by an athlete that I utmost admire, Constantina Dita. Just as she did, I hope that I will be able to win an Olympic medal for Romania in 2024! A big thank you to my sponsor Adidas, to all those who supported me, my team, my coach and all those who wrote me messages of support and congratulations!” she posted on Facebook.
Chelimo says she will still be competing in the 5,000m and the 10,000m to sharpen her speed. Her main focus however remains the 2024 Olympics in Paris, France.
In May last year, Chelimo acquired Romanian Citizenship but missed out in representing her adopted country in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. She is also hoping to get clearance from World Athletics to compete at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon later on this year.