© Copyright – 2016 – Athletics Illustrated
Justin Lagat predicted that Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge will likely win the 2016 Rio Olympic marathon. On the surface it appears to be an easy prediction, but anything can and often does happen during championship marathons. Kipchoge has been known for his incredible ability over flat courses in temperate conditions such as London, Chicago, Berlin and Rotterdam, where he has won.
Kipchoge, somewhat like Usain Bolt, David Rudisha and Michael Phelps was going in as the favourite as the world record holder Kenyan Dennis Kimetto was not in the race. Kipchoge owns a personal best of 2:03:05 – the second fastest performance, all-time. He owns a collection of bronze, silver and gold medals from various distances at world championships and Olympics. Kipchoge has won seven major marathons and finished second in one. He has won London twice, which is significant because London, like his Chicago and Berlin wins invite the best to show up to compete for the title and large prize purse.
Today, Kipchoge proved, as have many Kenyans before him, that he can run well in varying conditions. He came, he ran, he won the Olympic gold medal.
The second place finisher Feyissa Lelisa of Ethiopia was intriguing. What most people likely missed is his demonstration as he crossed the finish line, with his arms raised and crossed above his head, he was protesting his government who are jailing and killing his fellow countrymen as they ask for rights that are written in their constitution. Today was a protest day, which was quashed by the government. Over 500 Ethiopians have been shot and killed by the police since November 2015.
Demonstrators are protesting against alleged abuses and discrimination by the government. The United Nations appear to be mobilizing to investigate the situation. Five hundred deaths later, it could be argued that they are six months late to the issue.
It is likely that it will not be safe for Lelisa to go home. He finished in the time of 2:09:44 to earn the silver.
The third place finisher is American Galen Rupp, who runs for Nike under the guidance of Alberto Salazar. He won a silver medal during the 2012 London Olympics 10,000-metre event behind sometimes training partner Mo Farah. Rupp finished in 2:10:44.
Not far behind was American Jared Ward who finished in sixth position in the time of 2:11:30.
The Americans have surprised on the track at these Olympics, their sprint program seems to be in trouble, while the distance program unpredictably has performed well. In addition to Rupp’s silver, Matthew Centrowitz won gold in the 1500-metre distance. No one, not even Centrowitz predicted that.
The race was slow, but there were several athletes who could sprint the final 200-metres as well as or better than Centrowitz.
Representing the U.S. was former Kenyan Paul Chelimo who won silver during the 5,000-metre event.
A surprise was Canada’s Eric Gillis finishing in 10th position. Gillis’s personal best at 2:11:28 is eight and a half minutes slower than Kipchoge’s. It is impossible to compare the various performances from course to course, climate to climate and with the marathon – the athlete’s life situation cannot be replicated from one day to the next, but Gillis’s Olympic performance was better than most would have predicted. For the first time, he finished ahead of training partner Reid Coolsaet who is one of the most consistent marathoners in the world.
Coolsaet finished 23rd in the time of 2:14:58.
Wesley Korir and Stanley Biwott are two Kenyans that were predicted to compete for medals but did not finish the race.
This was the largest Olympic marathon ever, with 140 finishers and 155 starters.