Tokyo Olympics close with marathon man Kipchoge
TOKYO, Japan – The curtain comes down on the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics on Sunday with Eliud Kipchoge hoping to defend his marathon title on the streets of Sapporo.
The Kenyan world record holder’s attempt to become only the third man to win consecutive marathon golds gets the 16th and final day of full competition off to an early and electric start.
Kipchoge, who in 2019 became the first man to break the two-hour barrier for the marathon in a specially-arranged race that does not count for record purposes, wants gold to shore up his status as the greatest marathon runner of all time.
“My real excitement in Tokyo is no longer about competing at an Olympic Games, it is about making a legacy,” he told the Olympics official website.
If he needed further motivation, it came from his compatriot Peres Jepchirchir who took the women’s title on Saturday.
Unlike in Tokyo, where stringent Covid-19 restrictions have forced these Games to be held behind closed doors, spectators will be present in Sapporo, the host city of the 1972 Winter Olympics that lies more than 800 kilometres (500 miles) from the capital.
The organisers’ decision to move the race to the city has backfired with temperatures there touching the 30s, making for gruelling conditions for the runners.
Boxers hang up their Olympic gloves until Paris 2024 but not before four golds are distributed, with Ireland’s hopes of doubling their gold medal tally to two resting on the punching prowess of Kellie Harrington.
The cycling at the Izu Velodrome signs off with finals in the women’s sprint and omnium and men’s keirin.
France take on the Russians for women’s handball honours, hoping to emulate their male counterparts who on Saturday beat Denmark 25-23, avenging their defeat by the Danes in the final at the 2016 Rio Games.
There are also titles on the line in rhythmic gymnastics, water polo, and volleyball where Brazil face the United States.
And in women’s basketball Japan, led by pocket-rocket Rui Machida, are out to prevent the US from claiming a seventh straight crown.
When the action ends, the closing ceremony will take place in the empty Olympic Stadium, where Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo will receive the Olympic flag and with it, the responsibility of hosting the next edition of the world’s greatest sporting show.