Ugandan marathon runners Immaculate Chemutai and Juliet Chekwel have successfully completed the Tokyo Olympics marathon in 16th and 69th places respectively.

At the front of the marathon, it was a Kenyan one-two finish in the event with Peres Jepchirchir winning gold in 2:27:20 ahead of compatriot Brigid Kosgei who was just 16 seconds behind. The surprise bronze medal was won by American Molly Seidel who ran with the leaders from start to finish.

For Uganda’s best result, Chemutai clocked 2:32:23 finishing 5:03 off the pace in 16th place. Chekwel ran her season-best 2:42:15 to be the 69th athlete to cross the finish line.

The generally slow-pace marathon which set off after sunrise at 6 a.m. local time in Tokyo – midnight back at home in Uganda – was a gruelling test of the athletes’ mental and physical strength.

Conditions quickly toughened up to about 29 degrees centigrade and 69% humidity along the streets of the Sapporo Odori Park where the marathon was run. Consequently, fourteen athletes were unable to finish the marathon including world champion Ruth Chepngetich.

Chekwel slowly trotted to the finish line and needed medical support to help with her immediate recovery, evidence of the immense toll it took on her.

Mercyline Chelangat will be the last female Uganda athlete to compete at the Olympics this year when she hits the track for the women’s 10,000m final at 1:45 p.m. EAT.

Ernest Akorebirungi is an amateur rugby player and a keen follower of local Ugandan rugby.

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