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Bashir Abdi takes bronze for Belgium in the Olympic marathon race

On what is the final day of the Tokyo Olympics Belgium’s Bashir Abdi has taken the bronze medal in the marathon. This brings Belgium’s total medal tally to 7 (3 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze medals). Fellow Belgian Koen Naert finished a very respectable 10th in a race that was won by the Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge. 

Like the women’s marathon, the men’s race was in Sapporo where the climate is normally cooler than in the Japanese capital. Nevertheless, it was more than warm enough for the three Belgians taking part in the race Bashir Abdi, Koen Naert and Dieter Kersten.

In what was a battle against the Japanese summer sun one runner after another dropped out during the race. Meanwhile, the Belgians kept their cool and each had their own game plan to see them through the ultimate test of endurence in the blistering heat.

They paced themselves to see themselves through the 42-plus-kilometre race. Dieter Kersten was running in his first marathon. After 5km he was 82nd, but by the end of the race he had overtaken more than 20 other runners to finish 59th


Meanwhile, the two other Belgians Bashir Abdi and Koen Naert were both up with the leading group for most of the race. At around 12 kilometres from the finishing line Koen Naert decided to run at his own pace and he eventually finished 10th.

Bashir Abdi was the only Belgian that was able to keep pace with the Kenyans. Eliud Kipchoge was a cut above the rest and like in 5 years ago in Rio he took gold. The battle for silver and bronze was more interesting altogether.

Encouraged by his great friend and fellow runner, the Dutch athlete Abdi Nageeye, Bashir Abdi kept pace. In the final sprint Nageeye was clearly the best, but rather than being concerned about his own success he urged his friend and training buddy on to take bronze. At the end of the race the two runners fell into each other’s arms.

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