Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya has won the Olympic women’s marathon in Sapporo on Saturday, outduelling compatriot Brigid Kosgei in the final minutes and claiming her country’s second consecutive gold medal in the event.
Jepchirchir finished with a time of 2:27:20, 16 seconds ahead of Kosgei and 26 seconds in front of Seidel.
American Molly Seidel took bronze after Israel’s Lonah Chemtai Salpeter stopped inside the final five kilometres.
Stephanie Davis, the 2021 British champion, finished 39th in 2:36:33.
Compatriots Steph Twell – making her third Olympic appearance at a third different distance after entering the 1500m in 2008 and 5,000m in 2016 – placed 68th in 2:53:26, while Jessica Piasecki was 71st in 2:55:39.
The Kenyan team boasted three of the five fastest female marathon runners of all time, but world champion Ruth Chepngetich – who defied the heat and humidity of Doha in 2019 to win gold – pulled up after losing touch with the leaders at 30km.
“When I was there, I said, wow, I’m going to make it. So I pushed the pace because I knew I was going to win,” Jepchirchir said.
“I’m so, so happy because we win as Kenya, first and second … I’m happy, for my family, happy for my country Kenya for supporting us.”
Jepchirchir and Kosgei were joined by Seidel and Salpeter in the lead group with five kilometres remaining, before the Kenyan pair moved clear and Seidel pushed on following European 10,000m champion Salpeter’s abrupt withdrawal to win bronze in just her third outing over the distance.
Kosgei, a two-time London marathon winner who broke Britain’s Paula Radcliffe’s 16 year old world record with a time of 2:14:04 at the Chicago Marathon in October 2019, finished 16 seconds behind Jepchirchir and 10 seconds ahead of Seidel.
The race was moved to Sapporo from Tokyo ahead of the Games to beat the sweltering summer heat in the Japanese capital
A total of 14 athletes failed to complete the distance in Sapporo, compared to 74 finishers.