Distressing scenes have struck the Tokyo Olympics marathon on Sunday morning after Brazilian frontrunner Daniel do Nascimento collapsed in the back half of the race.
The marathon began at 7am local time – one hour later than the women’s race on Saturday – with the 30-degree heat and humidity in Sapporo quickly becoming a problem.
Watch the tough scenes in the video above
Australia’s Jack Rayner was among a significant group of athletes knocked out early and it only got tougher for those who remained on track.
Do Nascimento was in the leading pack and feeling good – he enjoyed a laugh and a fist bump with eventual winner Eliud Kipchoge – but suddenly lost his legs 80 minutes and 25 kilometres into the race.
“The humidity’s really taking its toll. He hit his head there, he’s got to be really careful,” triple Olympian Tamsyn Lewis Manou said on Channel 7.
“Hopefully the medical staff will be keeping a close eye on him because marathon runners are so determined and gutsy sometimes they don’t realise when the right time is to stop for your health.
“(Marathon runners) are ridiculously tough. They train their bodies to the extreme all the time.
“He hasn’t run a lot of marathons. He debuted this year, he’s taking his body to points where it’s probably never been before.”
Do Nascimento was quickly back up to pace and fighting his way through a pack but he lasted barely two minutes.
The Brazilian walked off and collapsed on to a gutter, instantly grabbing at his stomach and chest.
“He’s done. Someone needs to tell him that’s enough for today,” Manou said.
Bruce McAvaney said: “It’s hard to watch, it’s really hard to watch. This is really distressing to watch.”
Medical staff quickly arrived to help do Nascimento, a former footballer who only ran his first competitive marathon in May this year.
“I think we’re going to see quite a bit of that in the latter stages because, unlike the women’s race, they’ve really taken off a tempo that is quite, quite suicidal with these temperatures,” Manou said.
Kenyan star Eliud Kipchoge led by nearly half a minute at the 35km mark, with compatriot Lawrence Cherono among a pack chasing silver and bronze.
Kipchoge more than doubled his lead in the following 5km before taking gold in a time of two hours, eight minutes and 38 seconds.
The champion becomes the third runner to win back-to-back Olympic marathon titles, a feat only achieved by Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila (1960 and 1964) and East Germany’s Waldemar Cierpinski (1976 and 1980).
When the next three runners crossed the line a minute and 20 seconds later, it was Netherlands runner Abdi Nageeye who took silver as Belgium’s Bashir Abdi secured bronze.
The Somalian-born training partners now representing two different countries worked together to overrun Cherono, who fell two seconds short of joining Kipchoge on the podium.
Australia’s Liam Adams crossed the line 24th in a time of 2:15:51 while teammate Brett Robinson finished 66th in 2:24:04.
– with AAP