Peres Jepchirchir won gold in the women's marathon at the Tokyo Olympics in 2:27:20. She led a Kenyan 1-2 finish, with Brigid Kosgei winning silver in 2:27:36. Molly Seidel of the US won bronze in 2:27:46.
Brigid Kosgei, the current world record holder, was one of the favorites coming into the Olympics, with eight wins in 12 marathons. However, on this occasion, her compatriot outkicked her to the finish.
Peres Jepchirchir, who hasn't run too many marathons, came into the Summer Games on the strength of her strong finish at the 2020 Valencia marathon. She is, however, a fast runner who holds the world record in the half marathon. She made a move with about 2km to the finish and took the sole lead.
Tokyo Olympics - women's marathon, a hard race of attrition
The women's marathon at the Tokyo Olympics was one of slow attrition. The halfway point was reached in 1:15:14, when over 20 runners were in the lead pack. It dropped to 12 at the 25km mark and further to eight at the 30km mark. Over 15 runners didn't finish the race.
Kenyan-born Lonah Salpeter of Israel, who stayed with the lead pack until about 5 km to go, began to drop back and stopped just past the 38km mark, failing to finish in the top 50.
Molly Seidel, one of the more colorful athletes in the field, came to Tokyo after finishing second in the US Olympic Trials. In only her third marathon, she stuck to the lead pack of five until the 35km mark. Once Salpeter dropped out and the Kenyan duo broke away, she kept in contact and stayed the course to finish strong for her maiden Olympic medal.
As the commentators pointed out, Molly Seidel's was perhaps the most impressive finish, given how her personal best (PB) of 2:25:13 compares with that of the gold (2:17:16) and silver (world record - 2:14:04) medallists.
Several good runners, including Ethiopian Birhane Dibaba and US runner Aliphine Tuliamuk, didn't finish either. The Japanese runners Mao Ichiyama and Honami Maeda finished the race but were well behind their personal bests.
Jepchirchir's win was a welcome gold medal for the Kenyan contingent and should boost their reputation as a marathon powerhouse. This is only their second gold medal in the women's marathon. Both Ethiopia and Japan, who have had multiple gold medal winners in the past, failed to deliver expected finishes.
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