Swiss star Manuela Schaer notched up a phenomenal sixth consecutive major marathon victory as she claimed World Championship gold in the women’s marathon T54 in London on Sunday.
The 34-year-old – who has won every major race since the Berlin Marathon last September, including Chicago, New York, Tokyo and Boston – never looked in doubt as she quickly took to the front of the 16-strong field.
By the half-way point Schaer had opened up a lead of over two minutes, and that margin had extended to more than five minutes by the time she crossed the finish line in 1:44:09 – although victory wasn’t as easy as it looked.
“It was really tough today because it felt like there was a headwind all the way, and I struggled at some points,” she admitted.
“I didn’t know how far in front I was – I didn’t know if the others were just around the corner - so mentally and physically that was a really tough race today.”
As for winning the world title, Schaer was clearly delighted.
“It’s amazing, I tried not to think about it before the race because I just wanted to do what I do all the time – prepare for a really important marathon. I’m overwhelmed right now.
“It means so much to me, I’m just really grateful to my team at home, my coach – they’ve done such an amazing job. It just seems like all the hard work is finally paying off.”
But despite her impressive run of form, Schaer, who won marathon gold at Lyon 2013, is still adjusting to life as the one to watch out for.
“It feels different, it’s a new position and I have to get used to it,” she admitted. “I feel like it’s more difficult. I’ll take it step by step now – I don’t see the bigger picture, but of course Tokyo 2020 is on my list.”
Sweet silver for McFadden
The USA’s multiple major marathon winner Tatyana McFadden (1:49:42), still racing in a borrowed wheelchair belonging to her coach Adam Bleakney since her own was damaged eight months ago in Berlin, got the better of Australia’s Commonwealth champion Madison de Rozario (1:49:44) in the closing stages to claim silver.
“Nothing else can go wrong!” laughed McFadden. “I’ve raced in a different chair, raced in a broken chair, raced in a borrowed chair; I’ve had flats in the past, I’ve had health issues. So after all these things coming my way to get second is quite amazing actually. That means I can only get stronger.
“It was technical, really hard; but I’m really pleased with the way I mentally got back in to the race. I just had to re-focus and keep going. I’m learning a lot about being mentally strong, which is awesome.”
Michishita’s major breakthrough
World gold also went the way of Japan’s Misato Michishita, who won the women’s marathon T12 in 3:06:18.
Victory marked a first major title for the 42-year-old who won silver at Rio 2016 and bronze at the last World Championships in 2015.
“I was determined to win, that was my plan, so I’m very happy that I was able to do what I wanted,” said Michishita, who also completed her third successive victory round the 26.2-mile London course, having won in 2017 and 2018.
“This gold medal is special for me as it is a bridge towards the next step which is Tokyo 2020, so this was really important for me.”
Edneusa de Jesus Santos Dorta of Brazil took silver (3:13.17), with Morocco’s Meryem En-Nourhi upgraded to bronze after Spain’s Maria Parades Rodriguez was disqualified due to her guide pulling her in the closing stretch.