The BAA’s press conference for the the 128th Boston Marathon winners

Eden Cooper, winner of the women’s wheelchair division, expressing her feelings post-race. Photo Courtesy of Aayushi Datta/BU News Service.

By Aayushi Datta

Boston University News Service

The Boston Athletics Association hosted their winner’s press conference for the 128th Boston Marathon on Tuesday, April 16. The event took place at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel and featured the winners of the Marathon: Sisay Lemma, Hellen Obiri, Marcel Hug and Eden Cooper. 

The event was moderated by Chris Lotsbom, member of BAA communication team, and featured speakers such as Jack Fleming, President and CEO of BAA, and Michele Barlow, Executive Vice President of Bank of America. 

The conference started off with Fleming thanking every department that worked for the Marathon becoming a success including the volunteers. He also encouraged the use of a term that represents inclusivity towards all the people participating in the marathon. 

“We say participants now because it’s not just runners. We have wheelchair division participants, we have athletes who emulate differently,” said Fleming. “Their mode may be a bit different, and this year we had so many newer participants in the para athletes division and the adaptive programs.” 

Fleming’s speech also mentioned that there were 2,954 medical encounters with participants across all events. Out of those encounters, 132 were taken to local hospitals and 38 were hospitalized as of Tuesday morning.

The speech was followed by a video made by Bank of America, highlighting some of the moments of the Marathon. Barlow gave a speech after the video where she congratulated the champions and expressed her gratitude. 

“I wanted to say thank you and reach out to the nearly 10,000 volunteers,” Barlow said. “We sent out a notice to ask for volunteers to join and within minutes we had our full.” 

Post Barlow’s speech, the four champions were called on stage by the moderator. First off was Eden Cooper, who was followed by Helen Obiri, Sisay Lemma and Marcel Hug. 

Lemma is an Ethiopian runner who won his very first marathon in the open division for men.  He ran one of the fastest first halves of the Marathon in 1:19:00, and finished the Marathon in 2:16:17. 

“It’s a very challenging week in the year,” Lemma said. “But I won, and I am happy to be here.” 

He said that he started off the race with full confidence, as he had a very good preparation after his race in Valencia. However, after 30K, he said he felt a drop in his confidence and had to remind himself to finish. 

“I am in it to run,” Lemma said. “I am very tired. That’s the reality, that’s why.” 

Obiri, on the other hand, won her second Boston Marathon in a row in the open division for women. She finished her entire run in 2:22:27. Obiri said that her training made her believe in herself. 

“From last year to this year, we didn’t change anything new. It’s only that we are working hard,” Obiri said. “When you are a top athlete, you can’t change your program much.” 

Obiri said one of her motivations in this race was watching her family at the finish line. Her father and daughters were attendees of the Marathon. She said her family is her inspiration and advisor when she is feeling down. 

“In the race, sometimes you say, can I give up? Then you say no, my family is watching me, let me try to work extra hard,” Obiri said. “I wanted to work extra hard to make them happy.” 

Another first time winner of the marathon is Cooper, winner of the women’s wheelchair division. She finished the marathon in 1:35:11, and also won the Boston 5K. She said that she had to attack the first hit in order to start off well. 

“It’s a bit like a dream. I sort of woke up this morning pinching myself,” Cooper said. “I feel so lucky and so grateful to just have the opportunity to race and go away with a win, it’s beyond belief.” 

Alongside the Marathon being her first win, it also marks a first win for her country of Britain. She said she’s proud to represent Britain, and is excited to celebrate her accomplishment with her friends and family back home. 

“I love racing. I just wanna see what I am capable of, I like pushing myself to the limit and seeing what’s there, and also it’s the Paralympic year,”  Cooper said. “There’s a lot coming up, and these races are super important, not just for qualifying but also to see where you’re at.” 

Defending champion Marcel Hug broke his own record by winning for the seventh time this year under the men’s wheelchair division. He finished his race in 1:13:33. 

“It’s always different. Different race, different circumstances, especially yesterday with a cross-record, but also a bit of a crash. It was very special,” Hug said. “To win a Boston Marathon, I never take it for granted.” 

During the race, Hug said he faced a challenge as he crashed near Newton. However his wheelchair was not damaged, and he was able to get up and finish the race.

“I was just trying to get back on the race,” Hug said. “Now when I see the video, I feel grateful that nothing happened.” 

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