Kenyan Kipchoge romps to Rio marathon gold

155 runners representing 80 countries splashed around the course

Red-hot favourite Eliud Kipchoge stormed to a runaway gold medal in a wet men's marathon on Sunday, the final day of competition at the Rio Olympics.

The Kenyan broke away at the 35km mark and romped home to win in a time of two hours, eight minutes, 44 seconds - over a minute quicker than Ethiopia's Feyisa Lilesa, who took silver, before claiming his life could be in danger.

American Galen Rupp, the 10,000m silver medallist in London four years ago, claimed bronze in 2:10:05.

In the shadow of the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, poking through the rain clouds from high above the city, Kipchoge produced a virtuoso performance as he added gold to the 5,000m silver he won in Beijing in 2008 and his bronze from Athens 2004.

"It really feels great," he told AFP after winning Kenya's sixth gold medal of the Games, all of them in athletics.

"I felt I had a little bit in the tank and it was comfortable, it was very comfortable. It's my first gold medal, it's the best win of my life."

It was a seventh victory in eight marathons for the 31-year-old phenomenon, who won the London Marathon for the second year running in April, coming within eight seconds of Dennis Kimetto's world record of 2:02:57.

A morning downpour put paid to any thoughts of a world record as 155 runners representing 80 countries splashed around the course snaking through the heart of Rio's historic centre in conditions miles removed from the holiday brochures of sun-kissed Rio.

Tokyo champion Lilesa had looked in the mood to push Kipchoge while Rupp kept pace after the trio dropped Ethiopian Lemi Berhanu just after the halfway point.

Kipchoge proved too strong, however, sprinting home along the home straight of the Sambadrome, home of Rio's famed carnival, to loud cheers from Brazilian fans before dropping to his knees and crossing himself in celebration.

"I think the rain was a good advantage because the temperature in Brazil is terrible," said Kipchoge, who was serenaded by local fans chanting "Kenya! Kenya!" after the race.

"The secret is good planning and good preparation. But I was really aiming for the gold medal here, not a world record."

Rupp's bronze was the third medal in 12 hours for controversial coach Alberto Salazar's after golds by American Matthew Centrowitz in the 1,500m and Briton Mo Farah in 5,000m on Saturday.

"He beats the hell out of us in training," said Rupp. "But having such a great group of guys in Mo and Matthew, it's a great dynamic. We really help push each other."

 

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