Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge romps to Rio marathon gold
Red-hot favourite Eliud Kipchoge stormed to a runaway gold medal in a wet men’s marathon on Sunday, the final day of competition at the Rio Olympics.
The Kenyan broke away at the 35km mark and romped home to win in a time of two hours, eight minutes, 44 seconds – well over a minute quicker than Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lilesa, who took silver. American Galen Rupp claimed bronze in 2:10:05.
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In the shadow of the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, poking through the rain clouds from high above the city, Kipchoge produced a virtuoso performance as he added gold to the 5,000m silver he won in Beijing in 2008 and his bronze from Athens 2004.
“It feels great,” he said after winning Kenya’s sixth gold medal of the Games, all of them in athletics.
“I felt I had a little bit in the tank and it was comfortable, it was very comfortable. This is the best win of my life.”
It was a seventh victory in eight marathons for the 31-year-old phenomenon, who won the London Marathon for the second year running in April, coming within eight seconds of Dennis Kimetto’s world record of 2:02:57.
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A morning downpour put paid to any thoughts of a world record as 155 runners representing 80 countries splashed around the course snaking through the heart of Rio’s historic centre in conditions miles removed from the holiday brochures of sun-kissed Rio.
Tokyo champion Lilesa had looked in the mood to push Kipchoge while Rupp kept pace after the trio dropped Ethiopian Lemi Berhanu just after the halfway point.
But Kipchoge simply proved too strong, sprinting home along the home straight of the Sambadrome, home of Rio’s famed carnival, to loud cheers from Brazilian fans before dropping to his knees and crossing himself in celebration.
It marked the third straight time a Kenyan had claimed a spot on the Olympic podium, following silver and bronze performances in 2012 and a 2008 gold.
Kipchoge’s victory came a week after compatriot Jemima Jelagat Sumgong won gold in the women’s marathon, marking the first time both races had been won by the same nation.
Addition reporting by Reuters