The Ultimate Olympic Event21st Aug 2016 |
Marathon is by many considered to be the most Olympic of all the Olympic events. There is a good reason for this view. There are not many sports who has its own origin myth, but marathon certainly has a very famous one. It is said that the soldier Philippides ran from the scene when the Athenian soldiers had won the battle of marathon against the aggressive Persian Empire. He did this to report of the Greek victory, and he was so tired when he had given the message that he died on the spot. While the trustworthiness of this story is very contested, it is undisputed that the battle of Marathon did take place. In August or September of 490 B.C, the Persian army was driven out of Greece, not to return for the next ten years.
Marathon featured in the first of the modern Olympics in 1896, but it did not get standardized until 1921. At that time, it was decided that the length of the race should be 42,195 kilometres (about 26 miles). The first person to win an Olympic Gold medal in a marathon race was Greek Spyridon Louis.
Ethiopia has become the dominating nation in Olympic marathon, winning four gold medals. In London, Ethiopian Tiki Gelana won the women’s marathon, while Ugandan Stephen Kiprotich won the men’s. All the favourites for this year’s race are from countries in eastern Africa. At the women’s competition, Mare Dibaba from Ethiopia and Helah Kiprop from Kenya are the biggest favourites. As for the men’s marathon, I believe Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge is the biggest favourite by far, while Stanley Biwott, also from Kenya, and Feyisa Lilesa from Ethiopia are the closest challengers. But these races are always very hard to predict, and all kinds of surprises can come. I would definitely put my money on Kenya or Ethiopia to take the gold medal.