Oviedo (EFE).- The Kenyan athlete Eliud Kipchoge, considered a legend of world athletics and the best marathon runner of all time, has been awarded this Thursday with the 2023 Princess of Asturias Award for Sports.
Kipchoge, nicknamed “the Philosopher” for his strategic skill in racing and his ability to concentrate, won the gold medal in the marathon at the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympics, as well as the silver in Beijing 2008 and the bronze in Athens 2004 in the 5,000 meter test.
The current absolute dominator of the marathon event, Kipchoge, born on November 5, 1984 in Nandi County, Kenya, holds the world record for the discipline with a time of 2:01:09, established at the Berlin Marathon. of last year, with which he lowered by thirty seconds the one set up to that moment by himself in this competition in 2018.
In addition, in recent years he has managed to prevail in fifteen of the eighteen tests of the discipline he has competed in and has climbed to the top of the podium ten times in four of the so-called Great Marathons: Chicago (2014), London (2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019), Berlin (2015, 2017, 2018 and 2022) and Tokyo (2022).
With this record, the award jury has praised Kipchoge “as a benchmark in world athletics and as the best marathon runner of all time.”
Kipchoge, who at 38 years old lives and trains in the Kaptagat camp, oblivious to all opulence and with a diet based on porridge, beans and local fruits and vegetables, has admitted that receiving this award and entering a list of “extraordinary laureates” is “an absolute honor”.
“(The award) motivates me in my goal of leaving a legacy in this world through racing, since a world of runners is a more peaceful, happier and healthier world,” he highlighted in statements to EFE.
The feat of a marathon in less than 2 hours
The jury has also highlighted that the Kenyan, who is part of the NN Running Team of the Netherlands, is the only man in history who has managed to lose two hours in the 42.195 kilometers, a mark not officially recognized.
He did it in 2019 in Vienna, where he completed the 42.195 kilometers of the test in 1:59:40, a mark that is not listed as official as it is a test organized specifically to overcome the challenge, in which the athlete ran behind a vehicle that was setting the pace, and was also surrounded by seven “hares” (support athletes) placed in the shape of an arrow to protect him from the wind.
In that feat, the athlete also used special shoes designed by the brand that organized the challenge, and whose use was banned the following year by the International Athletics Federation.
File photo dated August 8, 2021 of Kenyan athlete Eliud Kipchoge winning the marathon at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. EFE / Kimimasa Mayama
The also athlete and member of the jury that this Thursday has awarded him the award, Abel Antón, has assured that it is possible that Kipchoge will be able to go down again from two hours in a marathon and that the Kenyan will win a third Olympic gold at the Paris event next year.
For Antón, Kipchoge “has it all”, including “a perfect circular way of running” with which he has established himself as the best marathon runner of all time.
Beginnings as a long-distance runner
Kipchoge, of whom the jury has also highlighted his “important social work” through the foundation that bears his name and which is dedicated to facilitating access to early childhood education and environmental protection”, began his sports career reaping success as a long-distance runner.
Thus, after proclaiming himself world champion of 5,000 meters in 2003, he won bronze in the same distance at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004 and silver in Beijing in 2008.
After an injury that took him away from the London Olympic event in 2012, he decided to change the track to asphalt and won the 2016 London Marathon, where he set a new record, and reached the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games as absolute king of discipline.
There he achieved the first Olympic gold medal for his record, which was completed with a new triumph at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, held in 2021 due to the postponement due to the covid-19 pandemic.
Kipchoge, whose candidacy was proposed by the president of the Vetusta Universidad de Oviedo Triathlon club, David González Alonso, also has the victory in the Sub-20 Cross Country World Championship (Lausanne, Switzerland 2003), a gold medal in the 2010 Diamond League 5K event and four first-place finishes, three in the 5K and one in the 3000, in the Golden League (2004, 2005 and 2008, and 2004, respectively).
His next challenge will be to try to achieve the unprecedented feat, that of winning his third consecutive Olympic gold in Paris 2024. EFE