Tokyo Olympics 2020: Eliud Kipchoge prepares to defend Games gold medal with Enschede marathon win

Jonathan Korir, another Kenyan, stayed with Kipchoge until the 30 km mark before dropping away to finish more than two minutes back in 2:06.40.

Agence France-Presse April 18, 2021 16:58:50 IST
Tokyo Olympics 2020: Eliud Kipchoge prepares to defend Games gold medal with Enschede marathon win

From left to right: Second place Kenya's Jonathan Korir, winner Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge and third place Eritrea's Goitom Kifle pose on the podium after the "Hamburg Marathon" taking place at the Twente airport in Enschede, the Netherlanda. AFP

Enschede, Netherlands: Eliud Kipchoge, the reigning Olympic champion and world record holder, won the Enschede Marathon on Sunday in preparation for the Tokyo Games.

"It is mission accomplished," the 36-year-old Kenyan said.

"It was so good a marathon happened a few months before the Olympics to test our fitness."

Kipchoge completed the course, over eight laps at Twente airport, in 2 hours 4 minutes and 30 seconds. He was well outside his official world record of 2:01.39 set in Berlin in 2018 but comfortably outpaced his competition.

Jonathan Korir, another Kenyan, stayed with his training partner until 33km when Kipchoge accelerated. Korir dropped away to finish more than two minutes back in 2:06.40, a personal best.

Goitom Kifle of Eritrea trimmed two seconds from his best time to take third in 2:08.07.

In the women's race, German Katharina Steinruck sliced almost a minute-and-a-half from her personal best as she won in 2:25:59.

Tokyo Olympics 2020 Eliud Kipchoge prepares to defend Games gold medal with Enschede marathon win

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge competes to win the "Hamburg Marathon" taking place at the Twente airport in Enschede, the Netherlands. AFP

Steinruck dropped her rivals in the second half of the race.

Portuguese veteran Sara Moreira took second in 2:26:42 with Germany's Rabea Schoneborn improving her personal best by more than a minute-and-a-half to finish third in 2:27:03.

The invitation-only event, which served as a Tokyo Games qualifier, was originally scheduled for Hamburg but was moved to a closed circuit in the Netherlands and put back a week because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was billed "the fastest way to Tokyo" and in overcast conditions 15 men and 10 women beat the Olympic automatic qualifying time.

"The conditions were really good, a bit windy but I have no complaint," Kipchoge said.

Kipchoge had won 11 straight marathons before a disastrous eighth place in the London marathon last October won by Ethiopian Shura Kitata. He blamed cramp and "problems with my hip".

Kipchoge rebounded in eight laps on the Enschede runways.

He ran his ninth fastest marathon and set a world best for the year as he showed strong form three months before the Olympic marathon which will take place in Sapporo, in northern Japan.

As defending Olympic champion he had already qualified for the Games.

"To organise this in the middle of a pandemic and show that people can still run and deliver their best race before the Olympics is very important," Kipchoge said.

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