Galen Rupp looks up as he competes in the men’s marathon final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on August 8, 2021 in Sapporo, Japan.
TOKYO – Galen Rupp tried to keep a cool head as he competed in his second consecutive Olympic marathon.
The Rio 2016 Olympic Games bronze medalist wore a white baseball cap, which he threw to the ground before each water stop and took a new one along with a refreshing cloth and ice.
Rupp, 35, stayed with the leaders, even passing briefly in front, for two-thirds of the 26.2-mile (42.195-kilometer) race. But when defending champion Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya broke the 30km mark, six riders formed a pursuit group and Rupp was not in it.
The four-time Olympian never caught up with the leaders and finished eighth with a time of 2 hours, 11 minutes, 41 seconds. Jacob Riley was 29th in 2:16:26 while five-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman was 41st in 2: 18.27.
Kenyan Kipchoge ran the last stretch alone, crossing the finish line on Sunday morning in Sapporo, about 500 miles north of Tokyo, with a time of 2:08:38, which was far from his world record of 2:01:39 based in Berlin. in 2018. Abdi Nageeye of the Netherlands finished second (2:09:58) followed by Belgium’s Bashir Abdi (2:10:00) as they edged Lawrence Cherono of Kenya (2:10:02) in a battle for money. and bronze medals.
Kipchoge became the third man to win two Olympic gold medals in the marathon, joining Abebe Bikila of Ehtiopia (1960 and 1964) and Waldemmar Cierpinski of East Germany (1976 and 1980).
A day after Molly Seidel unexpectedly won the bronze medal to become the third American woman to step onto the marathon podium, expectations were high for Rupp. He hoped to join Frank Shorter (gold in 1972, silver in 1976) as the only American to win two marathon medals.
The race was held in Sapporo because it was supposed to be cooler than Tokyo, but the temperature at the time of the race in Sapporo was 79 degrees with 81% humidity and a little wind. In Tokyo, it was 75 degrees and it was raining. Rupp had won the US Olympic Team Trials – Marathon in February 2020 on a course set up to mimic the proposed course in Tokyo before the decision was made to move to Sapporo.
A total of 106 riders took the start and only 76 completed the Tokyo course.
At the start of the race, Rupp followed Kipchoge, the only athlete to run a marathon under two hours, which he achieved in an exhibition race with leaders, making him ineligible for a record.
“He knows Kipchoge knows how to run the best marathon,” said NBC presenter Kara Goucher, who was in the same training group as Rupp.
Rupp stayed so close that at one point Kipchoge turned and said something to him, apparently annoyed by the American’s strategy.
The father of four looked comfortable early in the race as the lead peloton completed 5 km in 15:17 and 10 km in 30:53.
“You can never count Galen Rupp,” Goucher said.
She noticed later in the race that Rupp looked effortless and relaxed.
“He looks like the Galen Rupp we all know, totally in control,” Goucher said.
But at the 19th mile, Rupp was struggling.
“He doesn’t have the same rebound,” Goucher said. ” He suffers. It’s hard there.
And by the time Rupp crossed the finish line, he was bareheaded.
Rupp was just 22 when he competed in his first Olympics in 2008, finishing 13th in the 10,000-meter track. He won the silver in the 10,000 in London four years later, becoming the first American to win a medal in that event since Billy Mills in 1964 in Tokyo. He also placed seventh in the 5,000m.
In Rio, Rupp again duplicated, but with an even more ambitious schedule. He placed fifth in the 10,000 and then eight days later took bronze in the marathon. Rupp is the only American to win Olympic medals in both events.
Riley, who finished second in the marathon trials, was 42nd at the halfway point in Sapporo and placed 20th at 35km.
Abddirahman, 44, was the oldest runner to be part of an Olympic team. It was his second Olympic marathon. At the London 2012 Olympics, he did not finish the race.
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