Israeli runner Lonah Chemtai Salpeter broke a European record for the women’s 10K, finishing a race in the Netherlands on Sunday in 30 minutes and four seconds.
She passed the UK’s Paula Radcliffe, who had held the record since 2003, when she finished the 10K in 30:21.
Chemtai Salpeter ran hard and fast from the gun, passing through the halfway point in 14:55 and she maintained this pace in the second half against a strong wind.
Chemtai Salpeter’s time was also the second-fastest in history, bettered only by Joyciline Jepkosgei’s world record of 29:43 which was set in Prague in 2017.
“I’m pleased with today’s achievement but I’m not too surprised because training is going well. This competition today is part of my build up towards the marathon at the World Championships in Doha,” said Chemtai Salpeter.
“Unfortunately the wind disturbed me after five kilometres. I believe with pacemakers I could have run a bit faster, but this is the confirmation that with adequate training, wise competition planning, care of all those details that makes you a professional athlete I’m in the right direction,” she added.
European Athletics reports that after breaking the sub-2:20 barrier in the Prague Marathon in May, Chemtai Salpeter will begin as one of the favourites for the gold medal in the marathon in Doha. The last European to win a medal was Italy’s Valeria Straneo in 2013 and the last European to win the title was Radcliffe in 2005.
“I know the World Championships in Doha is super challenging, but I’m getting ready for it and I’m curious to see how I will perform after such a great year and progression both mentally and physically,” said Chemtai Salpeter.
Speaking to reporters after her first-place finish, Chemtai said she was “pleased” with her performance, but not surprised, given the intensity of her training for the World Championships in Doha later this month.
“I’m happy that I broke the European record, and I’m heading in the right direction,” Chemtai said.
Last year, Chemtai won the Florence Marathon, crossing the finishing line in 2:24:17, and smashing the previous record of 2:35:59 set two years ago by Elena Dolinin.
Who is Lonah Chemtai Salpeter?
Lonah Chemtai Salpeter was born in Kenya, but she is now a hero of Israel.
Lonah first came to Israel in 2008. She was the nanny for Kenya’s Ambassador to Israel and worked at the Kenyan embassy. In her spare time, Lonah would exercise, running through the parks of Tel Aviv. one morning she was running around Tel Aviv’s Herzliya park when she was noticed by a running coach who encouraged her to train professionally. From that point on Lonah took running more seriously and was eventually introduced to Israeli running coach Dan Salpeter who helped her in her training. The two fell in love and in 2014 the couple were married. Nine-months later their son Roy was born.
Amazingly, Lonah never ran marathons, she only trained for short distances and it was only after she got married, and while she was pregnant, that she ran her first marathon.
In 2016, whilst she was still breastfeeding her son, Lonah took part in the Tel Aviv Marathon and completed the course in 2:40:16, almost five minutes faster than the time required to compete at the Olympics.
Later that year, after she became an Israeli citizen, she flew to Brazil and represented Israel at the 2016 Rio Olympics with her coach husband and son cheering her on from the sidelines.
Lonah competed in the marathon but unfortunately had to drop out of the race at the thirty-third-kilometre mark due to a shoulder injury. Determined to come back stronger, Lonah competed for Israel last year at the European Championships 2018 in Berlin. One 8 August 2018, Lonah Chemtai Salpeter, at the age of 29, won the gold medal for the 10,000-meter race. After winning the race, draped in the Israeli flag, Lonah said her victory was her way to honour her country (Israel), her family and herself.
This victory was Israel’s first-ever female gold at the European Championships and led to wide praise for the Kenyan-born athlete who has been welcomed with open arms by the Israeli public.
This latest record-breaking achievement by Lonah is another accolade that will no doubt honour Israel, her family and of course herself. We look forward to seeing more success for Lonah in the near future.