Emmanuel Korir put up a brave performance in the men’s 800m final to bag Kenya its first gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics.
Korir, who barely made it past the semis, clinched gold with a time of 1:45.06, with his Kenyan compatriot Ferguson Rotich claiming silver after finishing in second place. In what was a race to determine who would take over from the legendary David Rudisha, the Kenyan duo did a solid job in ensuring the gold medal was retained.
Rudisha, a world record holder in the 800m, won gold in the 2012 Olympics in London and Rio 2016.
Plaudits also have to go to Ferguson Rotich, who also did impressively to overtake Poland’s Patryk Dobek who eventually had to settle for bronze. Rotich, Korir’s road to 800m final In all honesty, the iikes of Emmanuel Korir and Ferguson Rotich were heavy favourites for a medal in the men’s 800m
It was just a question of which of the two would clinch gold and who would settle for silver. Along with Michael Saruni, the Kenyan trio comfortably powered their way to the semis in their respective heats on Saturday, July 31. Ferguson Rotich, a world 800m bronze medalist ran the fastest outside an Olympic final as he clocked 1:43.75 to easily glide into the semis; while Korir also won his race in Heat Six, although he had to dig deep in the final 50 metres to edge Poland’s Mateusz Borkowski.
When it finally came down to the final, Korir’s strides played a huge part in his lead as the pack tried to catch up to him in the final 100 metres.
In what looked like a tactical move on his part, Rotich preserved his energy for the final 200 metres where he burst into an impressive run with power and strides to move past two athletes for second place.
If the race had been a bit longer, the experienced Rotich would have probably edged the much younger Korir but it was a win-win for team Kenya. Australia’s Peter Bol’s who took the race by the neck with a darting run in the first lap, ran out of gas when it mattered and finished fourth, while Poland’s Patryk Dobek (1:45.39) settled for bronze Kipyegon for Kenya in women’s 1500m Elsewhere, Kenya will look for her second gold in the Tokyo Olympics in the women’s 1500m after Faith Kipyegon qualified for the final.
The reigning Olympic champion won the first semi-final in a quick 3:56.80 to set up what will be a thrilling final against Dutch runner Sifan Hassan.