Eliud Kipchoge realised his longstanding ambition of Olympic success yesterday when he secured gold in the marathon. It was a promising day for Team GB, too, as Callum Hawkins put in an impressive performance to finish ninth in 2:11:52.
A morning downpour further lessened the likelihood of a WR as a field of 155 runners made their way through Rio’s city centre. At the 30k mark, a trio of Kipchoge, Lelisa Feyisa and Galen Rupp fronted the field.
Kipchoge, the clear pre-race favourite, never seemed threatened and gradually pulled away from the duo, making what was a decisive move with six km remaining. The Kenyan, who had switched to marathon distance in 2013 having failed to secure an Olympic title over 5,000m, has now won seven of his last eight marathon outings.
He was clearly delighted when passing the finish point at Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí, commenting later: “I have such happiness to have won a gold medal. It’s what I came here for, and that performance makes me so proud. It was a bit slow at halfway so I decided to take over.”
Callum Hawkins’ rise in distance running seems to be unstoppable and, at just 24, could well be challenging for podium places in years to come. The Scottish runner said he aimed for a top 10 finish: "Top 10 was the big goal, that was what I was going for, so to get that at my first Olympics is really good, It was a bit annoying that it was my legs that were going.”
Callum’s brother, Derek, had been battling with injury in the lead up to the Olympics, placed 114th with a time of 2:29:24. He seemed delighted, however, to finish the race: “Not the performance I imagined I would do at the Olympics but nine weeks ago I genuinely didn't think it I'd be there. Never ever thought I'd be proud of a 2.29 marathon but I couldn't be happier if it was a 2.12." The other Brit, Tsegai Tewelde, failed to complete the race.