SUNDAY, August 8:
Men’s Marathon Final – 1:00 am
The final race at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is just hours away and the obvious question will be, can Stephen Kiprotich do it again?
Nine years ago, at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Kiprotich stunned the world to win Uganda’s only medal at the Games to become the second Ugandan athlete to win a gold medal in the history of the Olympic Games.
And he proved that his victory at the London 2012 Olympics was not a fluke by winning the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Russia.
For Kiprotich to emulate the heroics of London 2012, he needs to put aside the Rio 2016 Olympic disappointment where he finished 14th in a race won by Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge who is the man to beat at Tokyo 2020 Games.
This is Kiprotich’s third time competing at the Olympic Games, and at 32 years of age and based on his struggles, this seems to be a race of his life knowing that failure to get a podium finish, is likely to end his participation at the Olympic Games.
Kiprotich’s recent top-two finish dates back to 2017 when was second in the Fukuoka marathon in Japan and this is the reason why some think Felix Chemonges and Geoffrey Kusuro are Uganda’s best bet for a podium finish in Sunday’s race.
Chemonges is the national record holder with 2:05:12 from the 2019 Toronto Marathon.
However, Kiprotich’s last race before the Olympics was in April this year, he finished 5th at the NN Mission Marathon in Enschede, the Netherlands in a time of 2:09:04 finishing ahead of teammates Kusuro and Ugandan national record holder Chemonges proving that he can still go the distance and that he is the right man to lead Uganda’s men’s marathon team.
Kusuro and Chemonges are the other two Ugandans to take part in today’s race that has more than 100 runners.
No doubt, all eyes will be on Kenya’s Kipchoge, at 36-years of age, he’s the world’s favourite to win the race. Kipchoge who holds the world record of 2:01:39 (set in 2018, Berlin, Germany), wants to defend his Olympic marathon title and become only the third runner to have achieved this, matching the achievement of Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila (1960 and 1964) and Waldemar Sierpinski of East Germany (winner in 1976 and 1980).
The other three runners Kiprotich should have to deal with to ensure he finishes in the top three to earn himself a second Olympic medal include the Ethiopian duo of Shura Kitata and Lelisa Desisa and Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.
Kitata, 25, of Ethiopia is mostly remembered for his gold medal at the London marathon last year beating the likes of Kipchoge who ended up finishing in the eighth position.
Kitata is also the winner of the Ethiopian marathon trials at high altitude and he is a strong finisher and aggressive runner who can push Kipchoge to the line as he seeks to win his nation’s first marathon title in 20 years since Gezahegne Abera at Sydney 2000.
Lelisa Desisa is a 31-year-old Ethiopian who won gold at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar to add on to the marathon silver he won in 2013 when he finished second behind Kiprotich at the World Championship in Moscow, Russia.
28-year-old Kenyan, Amos Kipruto is another threat to Uganda’s chances of a podium finish. In 2018, Kipruto finished second behind Kipchoge to win silver at the Berlin marathon before finishing third to win bronze in 2019 at the World Athletics Championship in Doha, Qatar.