Jepchirchir crowned marathon queen on Olympics’ ‘Super Saturday’

Sports Tokyo 2020

Kenya's Peres Jepchirchir won the women's marathon. AFP
Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir won the women’s marathon. AFP

Tokyo, Japan | AFP

by Talek HARRIS

Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir won a gruelling women’s marathon and the United States are looking to extend their men’s basketball reign as the Tokyo Olympics heads into its busiest day on Saturday.

Jepchirchir timed 2hr 27min 20sec as runners battled with hot and humid conditions in Sapporo, north of Tokyo, despite the race starting an hour early to reduce heat stress.

“If we’d started at 7:00 am, by the finish after 9:00 am it would have been too hot for us,” Jepchirchir said.

“When I heard that (the start time) was changed (to 6:00 am) I was so happy. I said: ‘Wow, that’s nice’.”

Athletes have contended with searing summer heat in Tokyo and Sapporo at this most unusual Olympics, where fans are banned from nearly all events over coronavirus risks.

The postponed 2020 Games veered close to cancellation as the pandemic advanced but they are now nearing completion in a succession of empty venues in Tokyo and beyond.

On ‘Super Saturday’, Brazil play Spain in the men’s football final and Nelly Korda leads the women’s golf by one shot with two holes to go when play was suspended due to storm conditions.

Britain’s Tom Daley, 27, goes for the individual 10m platform title after claiming an emotional gold with Matty Lee after bronzes in the past two Games.

The climax to track and field at the Olympic Stadium includes the men’s 1500m final, with Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot facing a major challenge from Norwegian youngster Jakob Ingebrigsten, women’s 10,000m and 4x400m relays.

Britain's Thomas Daley is competing in the men's 10m platform diving. AFP
Britain’s Thomas Daley is competing in the men’s 10m platform diving. AFP

Baseball final

France face the USA in the men’s basketball final for the third time after London 1948 and Sydney 2000.

Japan and the US cross swords for the first time in the men’s baseball final in what would be a morale-boosting win for the country, where the Games have had a mixed reception.

The men’s madison is the dish of the day at the Izu Velodrome, and there are four titles on offer in boxing and canoeing, and three in wrestling.

At the Nippon Budokan, karate’s fleeting appearance as an Olympic sport concludes with kumite finals for men (+75kg) and women (+61kg). Karate made its Olympic debut in Tokyo but will not figure at Paris 2024.

On the most gold-heavy day there are also finals in modern pentathlon, equestrian team jumping, artistic swimming, handball and water polo.

Heading into the penultimate day, China top the medals table with 36 golds from the USA (31), with Japan (24) in third.

The Games will close on Sunday in the same way they started on July 23 -- with a ceremony at the spectator-free, 68,000-capacity Olympic Stadium.

The United States play France in the men's basketball final. AFP
The United States play France in the men’s basketball final. AFP

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Tokyo 2020 AFP