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Team USA's Molly Seidel Takes Bronze In Olympics Marathon, Kenya Goes 1-2

Molly Seidel is just the third American woman to medal in the Olympic marathon.

In 2004, Molly Seidel wrote, "I wish I will make it into the Olympics and win a gold medal" for a fourth grade assignment on her biggest hopes and dreams in life. On Saturday morning in Tokyo, Seidel became just the third American woman in history to medal in the Olympic marathon as she took bronze in 2:27:46 behind Kenya's Peres Jepchirchir and Brigid Kosgei.

Seidel was competing in just her third career marathon. In February, she made her marathon debut with a runner-up finish at the U.S. Olympic Marathon trials in Atlanta with cold and windy conditions. In October 2020, Seidel ran a personal best of 2:25:13 to take sixth at the London Marathon in rainy conditions. 

Extreme heat and humidity were the test in Sapporo, where the marathon was moved due to hotter conditions expected in Tokyo. The start of the women's marathon was moved forward an hour to 6 a.m. due to the forecast that called for 85 degrees and 80% humidity.

“Truthfully, I wanted it as hard as possible. I wanted it hot and windy knowing a lot of these women run really fast in conditions that are very good. I think I thrive off a little bit of adversity," Seidel said. "The course in Atlanta [at the U.S. trials] was a tough, hilly course. When the going gets tough, that’s my strong suit.”

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Seidel tied herself to the lead pack from the start of the race and hung on. Just before the 40-kilometer mark, Jepchirchir and Kosgei started pulling away while leaving behind Seidel with Israel's Lonah Chemtai Salpeter in a battle for the bronze medal. But moments later, Salpeter pulled off to the side of the road and started walking due to an injury. Seidel was left alone in bronze medal position.

The 27-year-old joins elite company in U.S. distance running history. In 1984, Joan Benoit won the inaugural women's Olympic marathon in Los Angeles. In 2004, Deena Kastor earned a bronze medal in Athens.

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