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Meanwhile, history was working against Bordin. No male Olympic marathon champion had ever won Boston. "In 1988 I came not to risk," Bordin had said of his one previous run in Boston, in which he finished fourth. "Now I want to risk everything."
Wisely, though, Bordin had not risked everything. He had prepared carefully for Boston's hills, training in the Canary Islands at an altitude of 6,700 feet. When he heard 4:26 at the first mile, he backed off, letting Ikangaa and the others go their merry way. "I was 99 percent sure they would come back," he said after the race.
On Heartbreak Hill the gamble paid off. Ikangaa's mind had grown fuzzy with fatigue, and he drifted into the middle of the road. Bordin swept by, hugging the curb, and instantly Ikangaa was broken. Crossing a bridge near Fenway Park, Bordin looked back along Beacon Street. He saw nothing but a gantlet of enraptured spectators.
Bordin hit the tape in 2:08:19, the second-fastest time in Boston history. Ikangaa also set a record—for frustration. He finished second for the third year in a row, in 2:09:52. On the press room stage he paced disconsolately, his head bowed, before finally being persuaded to take his seat. "I am very, very disappointed," he said. "Some things I cannot control."
The women's race was business as usual for world and 1988 Olympic marathon champion Rosa Mota of Portugal. Although her clocking of 2:25:23 was the slowest of her women's-record three Boston victories, Mota led from start to finish, beating Uta Pippig of West Germany.
With his dramatic victory on Monday, Bordin seems at last to have recovered from the celebration his countrymen threw in honor of his win in Seoul. "Life became very hard at first," said Bordin, "because all the people in Italy wanted to meet me. So they organized parties."
The affable Bordin had trouble saying no, and la dolce vita took its toll. He missed Boston last year with an Achilles injury and then caught pneumonia. He bounced back quickly and finished third in New York on just two months' training.
Although Bordin is something of a comedian, he acutely feels his responsibility to his countrymen, some of whom cross themselves in his presence. "The champion in every sport has to give back something," says Bordin. "If, as you say in America, you have a big head, you do not help. But if you are normal, the young boys will think they can do it too."