BEATA Naigambo gave a great performance to finish ninth against a top-class international field at the Dubai Marathon on Friday.
Naigambo finished the marathon in a new personal best time of 2:27:54, which smashed her previous best time of 2:29:20 that she set at the same event last year.
The race was won by Tirfi Tsegaye of Ethiopia in 2:23:23, with Ehitu Kiros of Ethiopia coming second in 2:23:39 and another Ethiopian Amane Gobena coming third in 2:23:50.
Ethiopian athletes dominated the women's race by taking the first six places and seven of the top ten places.
The men's race was also dominated by Ethiopian athletes, with Lelisa Desisa winning in 2:04:45, followed by compatriots Berhanu Shiferaw in 2:04:48 and Tola Tadese third in 2:04:49.
The Dubai Marathon is one of the richest marathons in the world, with the winning men and women's athletes receiving US$200 000 each while there is also prize money for the top 10 men and women's athletes. Naigambo received US$8 800 for finishing ninth.
According to Naigambo's manager Frans Denissen, she started a bit fast, but slowed down over the second half.
"Beata started fast, going with a strong group from the beginning, but after passing the halfway mark she decided to slow down a bit, not taking the risk to die in the second half," he said.
"That was a good decision, because she passed some strong opponents over the final 10km, who clearly had started too fast," he added.
Naigambo joined Denissen's group of athletes at the beginning of 2009 and since then she has been improving every year.
Since 2008, Beata has been improving every year in international marathons, bringing her personal best time of 2:33:17 down by more than five minutes to 2:27:54," he said.
Naigambo's winning time is nearly two minutes behind the Namibian national record of 2:26:09 that Helalia Johannes set at the London Olympic Games last year, but according to her coach Tobias Hiskia, the record is well within her reach.
"Her preparation was not that great because of the hot weather in Windhoek. But we trained to go fast and we try to build up for the Dubai Marathon each year," he said.
"We were aiming for a top ten finish but did not challenge for the Namibian record. But she is not so far behind now and maybe she will be able to break it at the World Athletics Championships in August," he added.