Kenya’s legendary marathoner Eliud Kipchoge has set his eyes firmly on retaining the Olympic title which he won in Rio 2016 in the 42-kilometer race.
The 36-year-old wrapped up his preparation for the race on Tuesday, two weeks before he takes to the track in Sapporo.
“I have completed my training and I am really excited to race in Sapporo. For me, there is no greater race than competing for an Olympic medal. In Japan, I will defend my title from Rio, to win a second Olympic medal in the marathon would mean the world to me,” he wrote on Twitter.
Kipchoge heads into the race with a sterling reputation, having written history in October 2019 as the first man to run a marathon in under two hours.
Should he retain his title, the Kenyan would become only the third person in history to win back-to-back Olympics marathon gold medals.
East Germany’s Waldemar Cierpinski was the last person to make the achievement 41 years ago. Before him, Abebe Bikila was the only person to have managed to retain an Olympic marathon gold when he won the races in the 1960 and 1964 Games.
Speaking o Reuters earlier this month, Kipchoge said he was training hard to make his dream come true in Tokyo.
“I really value Olympic games and I am really fighting for it and I am really training for it,” he said.
The 2020 Olympic Games, held after a years’ delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has denied fans a chance to see their athletics heroes in action.
Kipchoge expressed his disappointment at not being able to run in front of fans, but acknowledged that it was the right decision in order to keep people safe.
“I would be more happy if actually all these challenges could not be there and fans could actually be lining up on the road to cheer us, give us hope, we give them hope about the world, running is about hope. But all in all, we respect the authorities,” he told Reuters.
The men’s marathon takes place on Sunday, August 8, the final day of the Games. It is set to begin at Sapporo’s Odori Park.
Kipchoge will come up against Ethiopia’s Shura Kitata who won the London Marathon in 2020. The Kenyan finished eighth in the race.
Others expected to run the race include Ethiopia’s Birhanu Legese, Kenya’s Lawrence Cherono who won the Boston and Chicago marathons in 2019, and Vincent Kipchumba, the runner-up to Kitata in London last year,