Patrick Makau shows off his world record time in Berlin

Patrick Makau has reason to smile after successfully defending his Berlin Marathon title in record-breaking fashion. The 26-year-old Kenyan clocked 2:03:38, smashing Ethiopian star Haile Gebrselassie’s previous world record by 21 seconds. Haile set his record three years ago on the same Berlin course, regarded as one of the fastest on the international marathon circuit.

And Haile’s presence in this year’s race helped spur Makau on. The 38-year-old Ethiopian great looked ready to challenge Makau, with the two running with the lead pack through 25-kilometers. But at that point, Makau began to push the pace. Shortly after 35-kilometers, Haile stopped with breathing problems and withdrew from the race. Haile also dropped out of his previous marathon in New York last November, and it now raises questions about his readiness for next year’s London Olympics.

For his part, Patrick Makau says he would be very happy to represent Kenya at the 2012 Games in London. The women’s winner in Berlin, Florence Kiplagat, also has hopes of wearing Kenyan colors at the Olympics next year. Kenya swept the medals in the women’s marathon at the recent IAAF world championships in South Korea, and the results in Berlin show this proud distance running nation is ready to win more medals in the marathon at London 2012.