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Olympic Athletics - Can Eliud Kipchoge bounce back to win Olympic Paris 2024

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Olympic Athletics - Can Eliud Kipchoge bounce back to win Olympic Paris 2024

The two-time Olympic champion knows how to turn failures into chances for success. Hoping to make history in Paris, the Kenyan will be inspired by his return to the Tokyo Olympics after the disappointing 2020 London Marathon.

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These are some of the words used to describe the embarrassing defeat of the greatest marathon runner of all time, Eliud Kipchoge, at the 2023 Boston Marathon. The two-time Olympic champion has run 12 major marathons in his illustrious career, earning him legendary status.

Before hitting the track last week, the track and field star had never been in the hills of Boston. He has seen and heard tales of the most infamous and violent course in the World Marathon Majors series. Like millions of his fans around the world, he hoped and believed that he would conquer the powerful Newtonian accent during his first attempt at the Boston Marathon.

However, the sizable hill, aptly named Heartbreak Hill, turned out to be the exact spot that broke his heart. Around the 30k mark, the 38-year-old vanished as the leading group surged ahead and managed to finish sixth, more than three minutes behind Kenyan Evans Chebet, who had won back-to-back victories in Boston.

It was another crushing defeat in the same drenched conditions for the world record holder as he had in the 2020 London Marathon, where he stuttered as he finished eighth. The King, whose statement that "no man is limited" continues to inspire millions of people to set no limits, pushing the boundaries, after all, a man.

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“I live for moments when I can challenge limits. It's never guaranteed, it's never easy... we have to admit today was not the day to raise the barrier to great heights... Excited for what lies ahead, he wrote on social media.”

The Olympic disappointments that fuelled Eliud Kipchoge to marathon greatness

Being a Kipchoge, whatever hurts him has the power to grow him. The best place to start is with his Olympic history. At his second Beijing Games in 2008, Kipchoge was aiming for his first Olympic title and second career gold after winning gold in the 5000 meters at the 2003 World Championships.

“I was in good shape in Beijing. Even with two laps to go, my mind told me: This year you will become an Olympic champion! But I had no more fuel and Kenenisa Bekele won the race, he told Olympic Channel exactly two years ago.”

Kipchoge had to wait another eight years to win the Olympic title he coveted. As per his career plan, he had hoped to take another shot in London in 2012, but could only finish seventh in the 5000m at the Nairobi Olympic Trials, missing his chance with the Kenyan team.

This defeat was a turning point in his career. Nearly three weeks after the London Olympics, Kipchoge suddenly switched to off-roading. He finished third in his half marathon debut at the Lille Half Marathon, behind compatriot Ezekiel Chebia, who set a new course record. And with this race, he said goodbye to the track.

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The following year, the four-time Olympic champion ran his first 42.2 km race in Hamburg and won, marking the start of his legendary marathon career. The same year, in only his second marathon, he placed second behind Wilson Kipsang, who set a new marathon world record of 2:03.23.

“I was still learning how to handle marathon ropes and other things. I didn’t lose much, he recalled.”

The London Marathon loss that fired up Eloud Kipchoge for his second Olympic gold

Since the Berlin 2013 race, he has been unbeaten for seven years with a remarkable 10-win streak, apart from two time trials with his 1:59:40 record at the unrecord-breaking 2019 Vienna event.

However, his invincibility came to an end at the 2020 London Marathon, a race he had dominated in four previous appearances. Kipchoge said he developed a problem with a blocked right ear, which contributed to his poor performance.

Despite this disappointing defeat, Kipchoge performed brilliantly at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics in Sapporo, where he won gold. He then set a world record in Berlin last September.

Kipchoge's goal was to run and win all six major events, and after victories in Chicago, London, Tokyo and Berlin, he can take solace in the exploits of another great Olympic marathon runner, Abebe Bikila, who won the 1960 Olympic race barefoot.

The Ethiopian legend also turned to Boston between his exploits at the Games in 1960 and 1964, where he placed fifth, the only time in his career that he finished an international marathon without a win. At his second Olympic Games, also in Tokyo, Bekele became the first runner to successfully defend his Olympic marathon title, again setting a world record.

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Kipchoge, Bikila (1960 and 1964) and Waldemar Czerpinski of East Germany (1976 and 1980) are the only runners to win back-to-back gold medals at the Olympics. The pacemaker-free Boston Marathon is like a championship race and was the perfect test for Kipchoge ahead of his likely Swan Song Games.

He wants to become the first man to twice defend an Olympic marathon title at Paris 2024

The marathon icon is likely to shake off Monday's disappointment in the Newton Hills and get back on the line, probably in New York on Nov. 5 - the race of redemption. Whether he will return again to conquer the hills next year in Boston, or test his spirit in London next spring before his 20th marathon start, remains to be seen.

The only certainty for now is that Kipchoge's main goal is to once again push himself to the grueling Olympic circuit, where no one has ever won more than two medals. I still have something boiling in my stomach, so I'm looking forward to it," he said of his quest for a third Olympic title in a row.

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