BERLIN (AP) — A German marathon runner who was criticized for holding hands with her twin sister as they crossed the Rio Olympics finish line — far behind the leaders — celebrated a belated victory in her home country Thursday.
Organizers declared Anna Hahner the winner of the Hannover marathon after Kenya’s Edinah Jerotich Kwambai was penalized for using an excessive dose of asthma medication and stripped of her first place in the April event.
“It’s a special coincidence that the news comes now. In the week after the Olympic marathon,” Hahner said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.
German officials had accused Hahner and her sister Lisa of being unsportsmanlike in Rio, where they came in 81st and 82nd.
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“The Hahner twins didn’t deserve any Olympic laurels for their performance,” the head of the German Athletics Federation, Thomas Kurschilgen, said after Sunday’s race. “It seemed as if they were performing at a fun run and not at an Olympic competition.”
Anna Hahner dismissed suggestions that the twins hadn’t given their best in Rio.
“(They said) we shouldn’t have reached out to each other on the final 95 meters (104 yards) but should have sprinted through the finish line and not dropped a tenth of a second for this unique moment,” she said. “But we did reach out to each other instead of elbowing each other out of the way. (…) We didn’t think but acted on our feelings.”
Hahner blamed her poor finishing time of 2 hours, 45 minutes and 32 seconds — 15 minutes slower than her personal best — on the tough conditions in Rio, saying the Olympic race was “one of my toughest physical experiences.”
The 26-year-old expressed frustration at having won the Hannover race “in bed.”
“I didn’t have a chance to celebrate reaching the finish first,” she said. “In Rio, I celebrated the final meters. For me it was a victory over myself in a marathon that demanded everything from my body.”