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Ethiopian Asylee Misiker Demissie wins women's title at Hong Kong Marathon for second time

Having pocketed almost US$150,000 from her two triumphs so far, Ethiopian vows to come back for more
Monday, 25 February, 2013, 12:00am
James Porteous

The Hong Kong Marathon is proving to be a nice little earner for Misiker Demissie, who heads back to her New Mexico home US$62,000 richer after becoming the first woman to retain the title.

The Ethiopian smashed the course record last year by 3-1/2 minutes to earn US$85,000, and though this year she couldn't pocket another new-record bonus, it was still not a bad payday for two hours, 30 minutes and 49 seconds' work.

That time was 37 seconds slower than she ran last year, but still enough to stave off the challenge of fellow Ethiopian Makda Harun (2:31.20) and Kim Kum-ok of North Korea (2:32.21).

"Today was a bit more windy than last year, which probably was the reason I went a bit slower, although I like racing in those conditions. It was good," said Demissie.

The 26-year-old seems a confident sort, and admitted she fully expected to lift the title again.

"There were a lot of good runners here and I had to really be at my best," she said. "I really had to try hard - I wasn't surprised with the result though."

Demissie followed the same tactics as last year, with her rivals unable to stick with her after she surged ahead with about eight kilometres to go.

"I ran my usual strategy," she said. "Every marathon I pace myself until the 35km point and then I'm going. I was confident I could win again, I've put in a lot of training and with the help of God I won - I'm delighted."

The next big target for Demissie is a trip to the Netherlands in October for the Amsterdam marathon, quite the opposite to Hong Kong in terms of elevation.

"It's a flat course so compared to here it should be easy," she joked. "I think I can win it. I certainly hope to put it in a good time."

Coach and husband Zereu Kelele said last year's bumper payday was "life-changing" for Demissie, who used to compete as a Bahraini under the name Teyba Naser before seeking religious asylum in the United States.

With another five-figure sum in the bank from this trip (US$57,000 for winning plus US$5,000 for finishing under 2:32.00), it's no wonder the pair will be back next year.

"I love the people, everybody's really nice and they take care of you well," Demissie said. "The course really seems to suit me and I'll definitely be coming back next year - and looking to win again."

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