Kenyan runner Peres Jepchirchir won the women’s 42km marathon of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Saturday morning at Odori Park, Sapporo, Japan.
Jepchirchir finished with a winning time of 2:27:20, 16 seconds ahead of compatriot and world record holder Brigid Kosgei (silver) and 26 seconds in front of Molly Seidel of the United States who took bronze.
Jepchirchir, a two-time world half marathon champion took charge of proceedings at the 40km mark and didn’t look back and believes that it was at that moment she realized that she was destined for gold.
“When I was there I said, wow, I’m going to make it. So I pushed the pace because I knew I was going to win,” Jepchirchir told Reuters.
“I’m so, so happy because we win as Kenya, first and second … I’m happy, for my family, happy for my country Kenya for supporting us.”
Jepchirchir’s victory implies that Kenya claims a second consecutive gold medal in the event. Kenya joins Japan as the only countries to win back-to-back gold medals in the event. It leads all countries with seven medals total since the women’s marathon joined the Olympic programme in 1984.
Uganda’s pair of Immaculate Chemutai and Juliet Chekwel finished 16th and 69th respectively with times of 2:32:23 and 2:53:40. Chekwel struggled with the hot and humid weather conditions albeit being a national record holder.
The race was moved to Sapporo from Tokyo ahead of the Games in an effort to beat the sweltering summer heat in the Japanese capital. But a heat wave has been sweeping the area, and even after rescheduling the race to begin an hour earlier at 6 a.m. (Japanese time), temperatures had climbed from 26 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit) at the start of the race to 30 degrees (86 Fahrenheit) by 9 a.m.