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09 August 2021, 3pm

Others left trailing behind world record holder

Kipchoge holds on to Olympic title

Men’s Olympic Marathon
Sun 8 August 2021

Gettyimages 1332939225

Eliud Kipchoge retained the Olympic Marathon title he first won five years ago in Rio de Janeiro and became only the third person to do so, following Abebe Bikila (1960, 1964) and Waldemar Cierpinski (1976, 1980). But he made it look simple, with an injection of pace between 30–40km that left the rest of the field scattered in his wake.

Conditions appeared slightly less unfavourable than for the women on the previous morning but the early pace was just as cautious and the eventual retirement rate, at 30 of the 106 starters, was higher.

Opening 5km sections were timed at 15:17 and 15:36 as around 50 runners formed a loose-knit pack with no clear leader to dictate the pace. Kipchoge occasionally did a stint at the front but shared the lead with several others who just seemed to want the experience – either of leading an Olympic Marathon or, perhaps, of running alongside Kipchoge. Fist bumps were seen to be exchanged.

Halfway was reached in 1:05:13, after further 5km splits of 15:10 and, from 15-20km, 15:44. Despite this being the slowest 5km section of the race the field had thinned out but still numbered in excess of 20 runners. Kipchoge was content to stay within the group but was winding up the pressure as the 5km splits got faster: 15:37 for 20-25km and 15:07 for 25-30km. The lead group thinned to just 10 and Kipchoge was now ready to make his play.

He did so at 31km with a sudden change of pace that put distance between himself and everyone else. His teammate Lawrence Cherono led the scramble to keep up which resulted in him leading the group of four that were rapidly losing distance on the leader. Kipchoge forged ahead, now in his own private race to the line. His split from 30-35km was 14:28, which put him 27 seconds ahead of the chasing group comprisingCherono, Ayad Lamdassem from Spain, Bashir Abdi (BEL) and Abdi Nageeye (NED).

This group didn’t so much chase as they lost another minute as Kipchoge floated away into the distance between 35-40km. Their attention was focussed  on the endgame which would decide which two of the four would make it onto the podium. Lamdassem dropped back while Cherono drove for the line but it was Nageeye who proved strongest in the long finishing straight as he cajoled his training partner Abdi to follow him as they kicked past Cherono in the final 100m.


1 Eliud KIPCHOGE KEN 2:08:38
2 Abdi NAGEEYE NED 2:09:58
3 Bashir ABDI BEL 2:10:00
4 Lawrence CHERONO KEN 2:10:02
5 Ayad LAMDASSEM ESP 2:10:16


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