Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge confident of defending title at Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Thursday, July 15th, 2021 00:00 |
Eliud Kipchoge. Photo/AFP

With only one week to go before the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge has one clear mission in mind as he seeks a successful defence on his marathon title.

Kipchoge prepares for his fourth Olympic appearance and only two men in history have snared back-to-back Olympic marathon titles – Ethiopian pioneer Abeba Bikila who claimed his gold medals in 1960 and 1964 and East German Waldemar Cierpinski the 1976 and 1980 champion.

All eyes will be on Kipchoge as he takes to the streets of Sapporo on August 8 seeking to add his name to this very small but exclusive club.

“My real excitement in Tokyo is no longer about competing at an Olympic Games, it is about ‘’making a legacy,”Kipchoge said.

It was back in October 2019 when Eliud achieved his greatest feat so far In his long and storied career, when the four-time London Marathon champion, world marathon record-holder and Olympic champion became the first athlete in history to run a sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna.

Yet the onset of the global pandemic in the first quarter of 2020 was to dramatically change everybody’s world.

“The arrival of the global pandemic was a huge shock for me,” he explains. “I was used to training with a large group of team-mates, and to suddenly be told I now had to train on my own was hard,” he told NN Sports.

“Everything changed. Social life changed we were told not to mix with other people. It was really hard to train on you own because you don’t know if you are training at the right speed.”

Eliud returned to the competitive arena in October at the rescheduled London Marathon.

However, an ear blockage and hip problem hampered the Kenyan great and Eliud conceded his seven-year unbeaten marathon streak stretching back to the 2013 Berlin Marathon.

Finishing eighth in 2:06:49 was unchartered territory for Eliud but he accepted the result with typical good grace and maturity.

“I was totally disappointed with the result but I understand sport,” he explains.

“I did not take the flight to London,  expecting just to show up and win. I don’t have complaints anything can happen in a competition. I just need to stay focused, forge ahead and continue.”

Earlier this year in Enschede, Eliud returned to winning ways with victory in the NN Mission Marathon at Twente Airport.

Looking calm and composed Kipchoge bounced back from the disappointment of London, recording an impressive 2:04:30 – an assignment which provided ideal preparation for his Olympic quest in Japan.

“To come back again and enjoy that winning feeling, and to show people I can still win and run well was a plus, plus for me,” he explains.

“I was really happy to compete in Twente, win the race and regain my confidence. It was also nice to give hope to others in these hard times.”

Since his appearance in Enschede, Eliud has enjoyed a perfect preparation for the Olympic marathon  which takes place 800km north of Tokyo in Sapporo because of the likely cooler conditions.

More on Sports