Tokyo Olympics: Kenya's Jepchirchir wins women's marathon with late burst

Brigid Kosgei took silver, and Molly Seidel of the United States, competing in just her third marathon after moving up from shorter distances, claimed bronze.

Peres Jepchirchir, of Kenya, runs to the finish line to win the women's marathon at the 2020 Summer Olympics.   -  AP

Kenya's Peres Jepchirchir won the Olympic women's marathon in Sapporo on Saturday, outduelling compatriot Brigid Kosgei in the final minutes and claiming her country's second consecutive gold medal in the event.

Kosgei took silver, and Molly Seidel of the United States, competing in just her third marathon after moving up from shorter distances, claimed bronze.

Kenyans Kosgei, the world record holder, and world champion Ruth Chepngetich had been the favourites to win gold on Saturday.

But two-time world half-marathon champion Jepchirchir came out on top after breaking out of a virtual tie with Kosgei at the 40km mark.

"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 said.

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"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 finished with a time of 2:27:20, 16 seconds ahead of Kosgei and 26 seconds in front of Seidel.

Battling hot and humid conditions, Chepngetich dropped out around the 30km mark. Israel's Lonah Chemtai Salpeter dropped out at the 38km stage after looking like a strong contender for bronze.

The race was moved to Sapporo from Tokyo ahead of the Games to beat the sweltering summer heat in the Japanese capital. But a heatwave has been sweeping the area, and even after rescheduling the race to begin an hour earlier at 6 a.m., 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.

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Sally Kipyego of the United States, who was with the leader's pack at the midway point but finished more than five minutes off the lead, said the heat was "absolutely" a factor.

"I knew that I was really fit coming in, so that performance is nowhere close to my fitness. I know the heat had to play a role, and I just thought I was going to cope better, and I didn't," she said.

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