by Brett Larner
2012 Tokyo Marathon 3rd-placer Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) staged a surprise upset in the London Olympics men's marathon, dropping two-time world champion Abel Kirui (Kenya) and 2011 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon winner Wilson Kipsang (Kenya) with 5 km to go to give Uganda its first-ever marathon gold and prevent a Kenyan repeat of the late great Samuel Wanjiru's victory in Beijing four years ago. Despite the unexpected loss, Kirui and Kipsang became the first-ever Kenyan runners without Japanese coaching to win Olympic marathon medals.
Japanese favorite Arata Fujiwara ran tough in the first two-thirds of the race, teaming up with 2012 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon runner-up Henryk Szost (Poland) to reel in stragglers from the lead pack, but making contact with the chase pack he settled into a slower than hoped for pace that allowed his former Takushoku University roommate Kentaro Nakamoto to catch up. Where Fujiwara locked on to the rhythm of the pack, Nakamoto pushed on ahead after catching them, followed by Athens Olympics silver medalist Meb Keflezighi (U.S.A.) and the PB-running Cuthbert Nyasango (Zimbabwe). As Fujiwara characteristically faded in the heat, Nakamoto and Keflezighi kept moving forward, advancing place by place to 5th.
With Nakamoto having been run down on the last lap of the track at Lake Biwa in March and the American's history of strong finishes there was little doubt of the outcome of their head-to-head duel, given extra fuel as two-time NYC Marathon winner Marilson Dos Santos (Brazil) came into sight. Keflezighi kicked away from Nakamoto in the home straight to run down Dos Santos for 4th, Nakamoto coming up just short of tying Shigeru Aburuya's 5th-place finish in Athens as he took 6th behind Dos Santos in 2:11:16, the 3rd-fastest time ever by a Japanese man at the Olympics and continuing his nine marathon-strong streak of always finishing in the top ten regardless of the conditions or circumstances.
As with his past warm weather races, Fujiwara wilted abruptly late in the race, dropping from as high as 8th to 45th and just breaking 2:20. Overtaking him late in the race, third Japanese man Ryo Yamamoto took 40th in 2:18:34.
2012 London Olympics Men's Marathon
London, England, 8/12/12
click here for complete results
1. Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) - 2:08:01
2. Abel Kirui (Kenya) - 2:08:27
3. Wilson Kipsang (Kenya) - 2:09:37
4. Meb Keflezighi (U.S.A.) - 2:11:06
5. Marilson Dos Santos (Brazil) - 2:11:10
6. Kentaro Nakamoto (Japan) - 2:11:16
7. Cuthbert Nyasango (Zimbabwe) - 2:12:08 - PB
8. Paulo Roberto Paula (Brazil) - 2:12:17
9. Henryk Szost (Poland) - 2:12:28
10. Ruggero Pertile (Italy) - 2:12:45
40. Ryo Yamamoto (Japan) - 2:18:34
45. Arata Fujiwara (Japan) - 2:19:11
(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved