Eliud Kipchoge 'fulfils legacy' as Kenyan defends Olympic marathon title

Eliud Kipchoge believes he has “fulfilled” his legacy after the Kenyan runner became the first athlete since 1980 to successfully defend an Olympic marathon title.
Gold medallist Eliud Kipchoge celebrates after the men's marathon finalGold medallist Eliud Kipchoge celebrates after the men's marathon final
Gold medallist Eliud Kipchoge celebrates after the men's marathon final

The 36-year-old – just the third person in history to win consecutive Olympic marathon – crossed the line in two hours, eight minutes, and 38 seconds, a full one minute and 20 seconds ahead of nearest challenger Abdi Nageeye of the Netherlands.

Belgium’s Bashir Abdi prevented a second Kenyan on the podium when he edged out Lawrence Cherono for bronze.

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Speaking after the event world record-holder Kipchoge said: “I think I have fulfilled the legacy by winning the marathon for the second time, back-to-back. I hope now to help inspire the next generation.

Regarded by many as the greatest marathon runner of all time, the Kenyan added: “Tokyo 2020 has happened, it means a lot. It means there is hope.

"It means we are on the right track to a normal life. We are on the track to our normal lives, that is the meaning of the Olympics.

"I am happy to defend my title and to show the next generation that if you respect the sport and be disciplined you can accomplish your assignment."

It is Kipchoge’s fourth Games medal, after 5,000m bronze in 2004 and silver in 2008, before a first gold at Rio in 2016.

He suffered his first marathon defeat in seven years in London last October but never looked in any danger in Sapporo, moving clear of the field after 30km.

Team GB’s Chris Thompson finished 54th in a time of 2:21:29 but Ben Connor didn’t finish and Scottish record-holder Hawkins withdrew before the 30km mark.

Hawkins, who collapsed in the heat during the 2018 Commonwealth Games, placed ninth on his Olympic debu in Rio but couldn’t keep pace with the leaders in Tokyo.

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A total of 30 athletes pulled out of the event including Brazilian runner Daniel Do Nascimento, who sustained injuries in a fall when he was part of the leading group.

Kipchoge’s compatriot Peres Jepchirchir won the women’s marathon in Friday in 28C heat and while it was nearly as hot for the men’s race on Sunday, increased cloud cover will have helped with the temperatures.

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