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Eliud Kipchoge wins gold in Kenya's best ever Olympics in history

NAIROBI
By Bismarck Mutahi | August 22nd 2016

RIO: When the track action kicked off on August 12 at the Olympic Stadium in Rio, Brazil, Kenyans were certain of two gold medals; men’s 3,000m steeplechase and marathon.

And Eliud Kipchoge, the two-time London Marathon winner, did not disappoint as he warmed the hearts of crestfallen fans after three-time world 1,500 metres champion Asbel Kiprop’s poor show.

Mr Kipchoge reclaimed the late Samuel Wanjiru’s title.

The race went as per script and he gave the nation a thrilling final day, which saw Kenya sit pretty in 15th place in the medal standings with 13 medals; six gold, six silver and a bronze, which is the best Olympics in history for Kenya after 2008 Beijing feat of 14 medals; six gold, four silver and four bronze.

CHAMPIONS RACE

Reigning New York Marathon winner Stanley Biwott and 2012 Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir did not finish the race.

“It was a champions race and it was a bit slow so I decided to take control of it. Maybe it was because of the rain, and maybe not. Everyone wants a medal. I came here for gold,” Kipchoge said in reference to the slow start of the race.

Kenya emerged as the first nation in history of the games to strike Olympic men and women marathon victories, with Kipchoge and Jemimah Sumgong doing the country proud.

“It is amazing for us. Kenyans will be very happy. This is history; the first time women and men win and it is the best moment of my life,” an elated Kipchoge said.

The race started at Sambodromo at 3:30pm Kenyan time under poor weather conditions as the rains that pounded parts of Rio from Saturday night continued into yesterday.

It was the opposite from the high temperatures athletes were accustomed to since they arrived in Rio. But for Kipchoge, who has won all his marathons save for 2013 Berlin Marathon where he settled for runners-up spot behind Wilson Kipsang who broke the world record then, victory was within sights regardless of rain or sunshine.

Kipchoge has won seven out of eight marathons in his career, including London in April that he set the second fastest record in the world, just eight seconds shy of the world record mark of 2:02.57 held by Dennis Kimetto.

As is the case in most marathons, the athletes stuck together at the five-kilometre mark with Burundi’s Abraham Niyonkuru storming into the lead as race favourites that included Kipchoge, Biwott and Wesley Korir kept in close tabs.

At the 15km point, Kipchoge had begun to test the opposition as he took over the lead at 46:53 with world champion Eritrea’s Ghirmay Ghebreslassie stuck with the chasing pack at the 10km mark.

At half way, Korir shot to the lead with Uganda’s defending champion, Stephen Kiprotich, in hot chase.

At the 30km mark, Ethiopian Lemi Berhanu had taken the lead with the clock reading 1:33:15, with Kipchoge and silver medalist Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lilesa in the lead pack.

At the 35km mark where major marathons are won or lost, Kipchoge had taken the lead once again and from then, there was no looking back as he went ahead to claim the Olympic title.

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