Ethiopia's three-time Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele won the Paris marathon on his debut at the distance, completing the 42-kilometre race in 2:05:04.

Bekele won the gold medal in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 metres at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as well as the 10,000 metres at the 2004 Athens Games.

He has struggled with injuries over the past few years and hasn't won a major title since the 2009 world championships in Berlin.

"It was very tough. Anyway, I made the time I expected,'' Bekele told French media.

Bekele accelerated in the 27th kilometre to break up a small group, with only compatriot Tamirat Tola able to keep pace with him before dropping off.

Pushes through pain

Bekele had a small scare eight kilometres from the finish as he felt a strain in his left thigh.

"My hamstring muscle was not good. I was cramping and I was worried,'' Bekele said.

Bekele’s countryman, Limenih Getachew finished second, 1:45 minutes behind.

Flomena Cheyech of Kenya dominated the women's race in 2:22:44, more than three minutes ahead of Yebrgual Melese of Ethiopia.

A field of about 42,000 runners started the 38th edition of the Paris race from the Champs Elysees Avenue.

Source: AP