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Tokyo Olympics Review

One week after the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Tokyo officially brought the 2020 games to a close we reflect on the events we thought would be too good to miss.

Men’s Marathon

1st – E. Kipchoge (Kenya) – 2:08.38

2nd – A. Negeeye (Netherlands) – 2:09.58

3rd – B. Abdi (Belgium) – 2:10.00

Why and how could you ever doubt Eliud Kipchoge? After his last two marathon performances, questions were circulating that Kipchoge’s dominance on the marathon scene was on the decline. How wrong could we be? He became just the third man in history to defend the Olympic marathon title. The field was potentially not at the same standard as major marathons, but there were still a large group of quality athletes, some of them boasting times of 2:03. Before the race FloTrack were asking the question if Rupp could challenge Kipchoge. Looking back this seems plainly rude.

In the sweltering conditions many athletes dropped off the pace early on, or out of the race altogether, but Kipchoge never looked troubled. Despite missing three drinks bottles throughout he was still able to run at 2:02 marathon pace around the 30 kilometre mark to decimate the field behind him.

Women’s 200m

1st – E. Thompson-Herah (Jamaica) - 21.53 (NR)

2nd – C. Mboma (Namibia) – 21.81 (PB)

3rd – G. Thomas (United States) – 21.87

This one probably didn’t live up to its billing. Current World Champion Dina Asher-Smith withdrew with an injury before the first round and Shaune Miller-Uibo backed off in the final after tweaking her hamstring as to not jeopardise her hopes in the 400m. Dina returned to help Team GB win bronze in the 4x100m whilst Miller-Uibo stormed to Gold in the 400m posting a personal best of 48.36s. Despite this, four women posted times below 22 seconds with Thompson-Herah winning in a new national record but we were left to wonder what could have been.

Men’s 5,000m

1st – J. Cheptegei (Uganda) – 12:58.15

2nd – M. Ahmed (Canada) – 12:58.61

3rd – P. Chelimo (United States) – 12:59.05

Despite Jakob Ingebritsen deciding to focus on the 1,500m (more on this later) this still turned out to be a very good race. After losing out to Barega in the 10,000m, there were still more questions than answers for Cheptegei to answer heading into this race, however he executed perfectly. Despite being an Olympic final, where quite often the pace slows and becomes more tactical (think back to every Mo Farah championship final) this race was quite fast – with four men below 13:00 minutes whilst Cheptegei was less than half a second off Bekele’s Olympic record.

The ongoing rivalry between Chelimo and the Bowerman track club also made the race for the silver medal a little spicy too as Ahmed is part of the Bowerman team. Chelimo has previously been quoted as saying “I wasn’t going to go out here and pace the Bowerman track club”. A solid yet unspectacular race that saw the world record holder win his first Olympic title.

Men’s 1,500m

1st – J. Ingebritsen (Norway) – 3:28.32 (OR, ER)

2nd – T. Cheruiyot (Kenya) – 3:29.01

3rd – J. Kerr (Great Britain) – 3:29.05 (PB)

Josh Kerr revealed that his U.S visa states that he is an entertainer and he and the rest of the field did not disappoint. It seems that 1,500m running has taken a step forward. No longer are these championship races cagey and tactical affairs. Nobody that made the 2016 Olympic final returned to the final in Tokyo. The last two men’s 1500m races couldn’t be further apart – The winning times were nearly 22 seconds apart.

Jakob went to the front after just 200m and once he did the rest of the field took notice. Cheriyout and McSwayn both moved to the front and it was after 400m that Cheriyout took the lead. Cheriyout, Ingebritsen and McSwayn were committed to the fast pace, moving through 800m in 1:51/1:52. With a lap to go McSwayn started to fall back but Josh Kerr had started to make progress. Jakob kicked past Cheriyout with 120m left to run and never looked back. In fact, it was Cheriyout that needed the rear view mirrors, as Kerr had executed his race to near perfection and was closing rapidly, only finishing 0.04 seconds behind the Kenyan. Nick Willis later called it the best 1,500m race of all time and it’s difficult to disagree. Ingebritsen ran a national and Olympic record and 3rd to 6th places all ran personal bests.

Now, just a quick word on Jakob Ingebritsen. In his post race interview Jakob Ingebritsen was asked if he wanted to go down in history as the greatest 1500m runner of all time. A simple, calm, one worded response came back at the reporter. “Yes”. After winning the Olympic title in what appeared relative ease, just how far can the young Norwegian go?

Women’s 1,500m

1st – F. Kipyegon (Kenya) – 3:53.11

2nd – L. Muir (Great Britain) – 3:54.50 (NR)

3rd – S. Hassan – (Netherlands) - 3:55.86

The event that Siffan Hassan was beaten in. Having listened to a few podcasts and the commentary at the time, everyone talks about Hassam losing, but that feels a little disrespectful to Kipyegon and Muir. Personally, I think Kipyegon may be the greatest 1500m/miler in Women’s track and field History and this performance highlighted it. Hassan led from early on in the race, taking the front of the field through 800m in 2:07, where Kipyegon and Muir sat patiently. Kipyegon flew past Hassan at 250m and Muir followed around the bend with around 180m still left to run. All three were well clear of the rest of the field which was spread out like it was a diamond league race. Kipyegon defended her Olympic title and after so many near misses, Laura Muir was visibly emotional at the finish after producing her best ever race to win an Olympic Silver Medal.

Men’s 400mH

1st – K. Warholm (Norway) – 45.94 (WR)

2nd – R. Benjamin (United States) – 46.17 (AR)

3rd – A. dos Santos (Brazil) – 46.72 (AR)

Wow!! I’m not quite sure where to start with this race. Simply incredible. The greatest race ever? Quite possibly. Others that spring to mind include the men’s 800m Olympic final from 2012, the 2004 1500m Olympic final or Usain Bolt’s 100m World Record but in my opinion this tops the lot.

Rai Benjamin had just run the greatest race of his life, smashing the world record by over half a second. Incredibly, the man in the lane outside of him had run even faster. As Colin Jackson said in commentary “That performance from Karsten Warholm is possibly the best I have ever seen… just breath-taking”. Warholm went out hard, as he typically does, but Benjamin began to close him down. By hurdle number 10 you couldn’t predict the winner but Warholm found an extra gear over the final hurdle to move away from his great rival and become the first man to run 46 seconds for the 400m hurdles.

At the beginning of 2021 the men’s 400mH world record had stood for 29 years, one of the longest standing records in athletics. Before this race, sub-47 seconds was considered a fantastic performance, but Warholm and Benjamin both obliterated that mark and shown us a new realm of athletic possibility. Dos Santos who finished in third had also beaten the world record mark that had stood at the start of the year but was completely out of the picture. It was an incredibly fast race, but coupled with it being an Olympic final and both the main protagonists had pushed each other to the limit.

Just like when Rudisha broke the men’s 800m world record in 2012 there was a litany of area and national records being set behind Warholm. A race that breaks the world record by nearly one second, has two area and three national records and leaves chills on the back of the neck is one that will go down in history as one of the greatest of all time.

Women’s 400mH

1st – S. McLaughlin (United States) – 51.46 (WR)

2nd – D. Muhammad (United States – 51.58 (PB)

3rd – F. Bol (Netherlands) – 52.03 (AR)

Copy and paste everything that was written about the men’s 400m Hurdles and re-paste it with the title Women’s 400m hurdles. Best race ever? It seems crazy to say this again but it may just be true. Again, this race left many speechless. Going into the race, McLaughlin and Muhammad had broken the world record three times in the last three races in which they have faced off. It happened again. Muhammad set off like a rocket and was ahead of the two athletes outside of her within a couple of hurdles. With 100m to go Muhammad was still firmly in the lead and McLaughlin was level with Bol from the Netherlands. At hurdle 10,McLaughlin and Muhammad were neck and neck (similarly to the men’s race) and McLaughlin charged to the line first. Again just like the men’s race, the third placed finisher in Bol would have broken the world record that stood at the start of the year. Simply incredible running.

Photo Credit

Olympics -

World Athletics -

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