Uganda’s Chemutai 16th as Jepchirchir gives Kenya Olympic marathon gold

Kenya's Peres Jepchirchir has won the Female Olympic Marathon Gold (Photo: AGENCIES)

📌 Marathon results

◉ Chemutai 16th 2:32:23
◉ Chekwel 69th 2:53:40 SB

TOKYO, JAPAN: Uganda’s Immaculate Chemutai finished 16th out of runners in the Olympic women’s marathon that was won by Peres Jepchirchir, who led a Kenyan one-two finish ahead of world record holder Brigid Kosgei.

Chemutai kept with the leaders for the first 20km of the 42km race, before a pack of  Kenyans broke away and kept the lead to the end.  Veteran Juliet Chekwel finished 69th of 88 runners in a season-best 2:53:40.

Uganda’s men led by former Olympic and World champion Stephen Kiprotich will run Sunday at 12.00 am.

Women’s race

Jepchirchir crossed the line in two hours, 27 minutes and 20 seconds, her season’s best time, to finish a physically exhausting race in a hot and humid Sapporo.

The two-time world half-marathon champion was 16 seconds ahead of Kosgei. Team USA’s Molly Seidel, a relative newcomer to the marathon, took home the bronze in two hours 27 minutes 46 seconds.

“It feels good,” said Jepchirchir on winning gold. “I’m so, so happy because we win as Kenya. First and second.

“I thank my god so much. I’m happy for my family. I’m happy for my country, Kenya.

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“I pushed on the pace (and when I opened the gap) it was like, ‘wow, I’m going to make it. I’m going to win’.”

The Olympic organizers started the race one hour earlier, at 6 a.m., due to concerns about the heat in Sapporo.

An 88-strong field lined up at the start of the 42km course in Sapporo Odori Park. Fourteen, including world champion Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya, did not finish.

“It was so hot, it was not easy,” said Jepchirchir. “I’m just thankful I managed (to cope) with that weather.”

“It is very hot but we tried to do our best,” added Kosgei.

Chepngetich and Kosgei were content to lead the early going in the race, with a group of 10 runners accompanying them along the way.

No runner made a real strike for home for the first 30 kilometres as they paced themselves through the streets of Sapporo.

The real race began at the 36km mark.

A small breakaway group including Kosgei, Jepchirchir, Seidel and Lonah Chemtai Salpeter of Israel moved away from rest of the field, opening an 11 second gap.

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Kosgei moved up from sixth to run alongside her fellow Kenyan and, just before the 38km-mark, they made a push for victory.

Seidel began to lose ground as did Salpeter while the Kenyans moved away.

Soon after Salpeter began to walk, with the heat taking its toll on the Israeli runner. She continued to finish 66th.

With less than one kilometre to go, Jepchirchir made another push for home to cement her position as the world’s top female marathon runner.

As Kosgei faded, Jepchirchir charged home to finish in a season’s best of 2:22:01.

Jepchirchir’s gold gave Kenya its second consecutive women’s marathon title at the Olympics. The women’s race in Rio in 2016 was won by Jemima Sumgong.

This is the 10th running of the women marathon at the Olympic Games after it was first included in the Los Angeles Games in 1984.

Kenya have won seven marathon medals in the event’s 10 appearances, but this was the country’s first gold and silver in a single Olympic marathon race.

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