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BY NAMULONGO PETER,NAIROBI,18TH APRIL,2021-Kenya’s marathon great Eliud Kipchoge was in sparkling form on Sunday, bouncing back from the London heartache last year to win the NN Mission Marathon – his final race before the Olympics Games – in style, clocking 2:04:3.
The race was held at the Twente Airport in Enshede, the Netherlands.
Kipchoge made a strong and energetic run leading for the better part of the race and never got his feet off the gas pedal to hit the tape wearing his trademark grin, the clock reading two hours, four minutes and 30 seconds.
The kind of performance he put on the Dutch course on Sunday will give him plenty of confidence heading to the Tokyo Olympics set for Japan from July.
The race also marked the final outing for Kipchoge ahead of his title defence at the Summer Olympics, which is just about three months away.
Another Kenyan Jonathan Korir came home second in a new Personal Best (PB) of 2:06:4 as Goitom Kifle of Eritrea placed third in 2:08:0
The 2012 Olympic marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda was fourth in 2:09:0 while another Kenyan Mathew Sang finished seventh in 2:09:8
As it was expected, Kipchoge was not under enormous threat being the only man in the field to run under 2:05 over the distance.
However, Korir proved to be a hard nut to crack as he was right on the heels of Kipchoge until he faded off just after 30km mark.
The Olympic champion would thus compete against time in the final stretch of the race.
“It was a bit windy but I can say the race was perfect. This marathon was the real test towards Tokyo Olympics. I am now going to focus on the Games,” Kipchoge said in post-race interview.
The one-off race was held by Kipchoge’s NN management jointly with the organisers of the Hamburg Marathon and provided more than 100 elite athletes with an opportunity to hit qualifying standards for the Olympic Games.