Elroy Gelant the only South African to finish as Eliud Kipchoge easily defends Olympic marathon title
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CAPE TOWN - ELIUD Kipchoge underlined his status as the leading marathon runner in the globe by successfully defending his Olympic title with victory at the Tokyo Games on Sunday.
The 36-year-old Kenyan’s winning time of two hours, eight minutes and 38 seconds (2:08:38).
But the conditions were tough, as temperatures went up to about 29 degrees Celsius, while the humidity levels were well over 70 percent at the Sapporo Odori Park – about 830km away from Tokyo, where organisers were hoping to avoid the heat of the capital city.
That was not to be, though, as athletes battled with the hot weather, and a number of athletes dropped out of the race at various stages.
It also meant that Kipchoge couldn’t chase his world-record mark of 2:01.39.
There was little to cheer for South Africa either, with Elroy Gelant the only local athlete to cross the finish line in 34th position in a time of 2:16:43.
Gelant and SA teammate Stephen Mokoka stayed in the lead bunch up to about the 30km mark, although compatriot Desmond Mokgobu never got going and was well down the field from early in the day.
Mokoka even took the lead briefly ahead of the Kenyan trio of Kipchoge, Lawrence Cherono and Amos Kipruto, while 5 000m track star Gelant also managed to keep up with the leaders.
But that is when Kipchoge made his move, racing away from the pack to open up a big gap of 27 seconds on Cherono at the 35km point.
Disaster struck for Team SA, though, as the 36-year-old Mokoka suddenly slowed down after the 30km, when he was in 13th position in 1:32:54, and a ‘DNF’ (did not finish) flashed up next to his name on the leaderboard soon after that.
The 34-year-old Gelant kept things steady in the top 30 positions up to the 40km mark, but was then passed by a few athletes to finish in 34th with a time of 2:16:43.
Mokgobu was in 84th position at the 30km point in 1:44:13, but soon dropped out of the race after that.
Kipchoge cruised through to the end to clinch a second consecutive marathon gold medal, having won a silver and a bronze in the 5 000m track event at Beijing 2008 and Athens 2004 respectively.
His Kenyan teammates faded away, with Kiproto not able to finish, while Cherono just missed out on a medal by two seconds to finish fourth in 2:10.02.
Dutch athlete Abdi Nageeye clinched silver by clocking 2:09:58, with Belgium’s Bashir Abdi just two seconds adrift for the bronze (2:10:00).
Men’s marathon results
1 Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya) 2:08:38
2 Abdi Nageeye (Netherlands) 2:09:58
3 Bashir Abdi (Belgium) 2:10:00
4 Lawrence Cherono (Kenya) 2:10:02
5 Ayad Lamdassem (Spain) 2:10:16
6 Suguru Osako (Japan) 2:10:41
7 Alphonse Simbu (Tanzania) 2:11:35
8 Galen Rupp (USA) 2:11.43
9 Othmane El Goumri (Morocco) 2:11:58
10 Koen Naert (Belgium) 2:12:13
34 Elroy Gelant (RSA) 2:16:43
DNF: Desmond Mokgobu (RSA)
DNF: Stephen Mokoka (RSA)