Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge underlined his credentials as the undisputed king of marathon since 1980 having retained his Olympic medal on the streets of Sapporo on Sunday.
The world record holder clocked 2hr 08min 38sec to win gold, becoming only the third man to win consecutive marathon titles.
Abdi Nageeye of the Netherlands claimed silver in 2:09.58, just ahead of Belgium’s Bashir Abdi in the final event of the athletics programme at the Tokyo Games.
Kipchoge, 36, is now the third runner to win back-to-back gold medals in the Olympic men’s marathon, joining Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila (1960, 1964) and East Germany’s Waldemar Cierpinski (1976, 1980).
The 36-year-old’s triumph, his 13th win in the 15 marathons he has raced since 2013, came a day after teammate Peres Jepchirchir secured back-to-back women’s Olympic marathon titles for Kenya’s women.
“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,” Kipchoge said.
“I am happy for the local organising committee who made this race happen. It is a sign that shows the world we are heading in the right direction — we are on the right transition to a normal life.” He added
World Athletics president Sebastian Coe called Kipchoge “a hero”, saying his ground-breaking sub-2hr marathon run in 2019 — in a specially arranged race that does not count for record purposes — “a massive moment in our sport”.
“He’s a hero to millions and millions of people,” said Coe, who won two 1500m Olympic golds for Britain.
Unlike in Tokyo, where stringent Covid-19 restrictions have forced the Games behind closed doors, thousands of spectators lined the streets of Sapporo in Japan.