Sun Weiwei headed Chinese women runners for a clean sweep of the top three places at the 2006 Xiamen International Marathon on Saturday.
The Liaoning native, a member of the Chinese national team, stayed in the leading pack throughout the grueling race of 42.195 kilometers, starting from the Xiamen International Conference and Exhibition Center, and touched the finishing line first with her personal best of two hours 26 minutes and 32 seconds.
Sun, who finished runner-up last year in the event, claimed her first victory at the Xiamen Marathon, which initiated in 2003. She pocketed a winner's prize money of US$20,000.
Her compatriots Zhu Xiaolin and Jin Man, both Chinese nationals from north China's Liaoning Province, took the silver and bronze medals in 2:28:27 and 2:29:51 respectively.
Sun said she was happy with the result, "but it's too wet today and I am not in my best conditions. If the weather gets favorable, I could have better performance."
Zhou Chunxiu, favorite to defend her title as the third consecutive winner who recorded personal best two weeks ago in the Seoul International Marathon, withdrew from midway of Saturday's race in Xiamen.
Her coach explained that "Zhou didn't have enough time to adjust her form within two weeks after the Seoul race, and she was just unable to cover the whole race."
The men's title went to Kenyan Stephen Loruo Kamar who timed two hours, 10 minutes and 46 seconds, while his fellow Kenyan Kosgei Jonathan Kipkorir finished second with three seconds behind.
China's Deng Haiyang took the bronze clocking 2:10:50, as he ran out of steam in the sprint meters.
Racers from the east-central African country packed five of the six leading positions on the board with Songoka Yusuf Chango, Henry Kapkiai and Chebunei Titus Munji finished 4-6.
(Xinhua News Agency March 26, 2006)