World record holder Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya became just the third man in history to win back-to-back gold medals in the men’s marathon at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday morning in Tokyo. At 36 years old, Kipchoge now owns two Olympic gold medals in the marathon, the world record and the only sub-two-hour marathon in history from a world record ineligible exhibition race.
Kipchoge delivered a crushing blow to the rest of the field just before the 30-kilometer mark. Galen Rupp, the United States Olympic trials champion and 2016 Olympic marathon bronze medalist, was running right on Kipchoge’s heels, so Kipchoge turned around to signal for some space. Rupp smirked but Kipchoge had the last laugh and decided to surge from the pack. From 30K to 35K, Kipchoge dropped a 14:28 split for 5K and the next best runners were 27 seconds back. Rupp fell behind by 67 seconds.
Kipchoge’s two marathon golds also go along with his silver and bronze earned in the 5,000 meters at the 2008 and 2004 Olympics, respectively.
Kipchoge crossed the finish line in 2:08:38. Rupp finished eighth with a time of 2:11:41.
Last October, Kipchoge suffered his first marathon loss in seven years when rainy and cold conditions caused a blockage in his right ear and then cramping that led to an eighth place finish in 2:06:49. The man whose motto is “No human is limited” finally looked human and limited among his competitors so naturally questions arose whether the end could be near for his dominance.
He cast some of that doubt aside in April when his agents set up the NN Mission Marathon at Twente Airport in the Netherlands as a tune-up and showcase ahead of the Olympics. He won in a comfortable 2:04:30, which is nearly three minutes slower than his 2:01:39 record-setting run at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. There was no doubt in Sapporo as he delivered a masterclass with his final 10 kilometers of solo running.
In the weeks leading up to the race, a virtual press conference was held by Kipchoge’s agent and he was asked by a reporter: “Will this be your last race ever?”
“I don’t know but I’ll say I’ll still be around,” Kipchoge responded. “My mind is actually concentrated on the Olympic Games and things will come on later. But you’ll still see me around.”
In addition to his gold medal from Rio five years ago, Kipchoge has four London Marathon victories, three Berlin Marathon victories and one Chicago Marathon victory on his resume. He’s previously said that he would like to run all six World Marathon Majors before his career is over. The Boston Marathon is traditionally held in April but has been moved to September for its 2021 edition before returning to the spring in 2022. The 2021 New York City Marathon is slated for November.
After his uncertain answer regarding his future, he was asked how he envisioned ending his career and whether winning the major marathons were still part of his plan.
“There’s the genesis of sport and the ending of sport,” Kipchoge said. “The end of my career will come naturally. That’s still in front of my mind but for now I still want to compete more. I still want to go around the world and run with people and inspire many people. When I see other people like the footballers who are still fighting as old as me but are still performing very well, they are giving me more motivation to still run at the top.
“As far as the marathon majors, it’s still on my bucket list for all the six.”
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