Tokyo 2020 Day 15: McCormack finishes crippling marathon, Meadow seventh in golf

36-year-old comes 25th in sweltering heat as Cooke pulls out; Leona Maguire tied for 23rd

Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack finished 25th in the marathon in Tokyo. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack finished 25th in the marathon in Tokyo. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 
  • Athletics: Fionnuala McCormack finishes 25th in marathon in crippling conditions. Stephen Scullion, Paul Pollock and Kevin Seaward in men’s race at 11pm.
  • Golf: Stephanie Meadow earns seventh place in women’s event.
  • Cycling: Mark Downey and Felix English do not finish in men’s madison cycling final.

Athletics

Someone had what they thought was the bright idea to move the Tokyo Olympic marathons 800km north of the city and into cooler climes only it didn’t work out that way, Fionnuala McCormack and Aoife Cooke among those to experience the crippling conditions for 26.2 miles of hard and relentless running.

It would have been a crowning moment for anyone to finish inside the Olympic Stadium: as ever McCormack ran her heart and soul out to finish 25th, this being her fourth successive Olympics, now including almost 65 miles of Olympic running in all, road and track.

Cooke didn’t make it to the finish and she wasn’t the only one. Even with the start time moved from 7am to 6am, with just 12 hours notice, at the Saturday morning start time it was 25.7°C, with 78 per cent relative humidity. The temperature continued to rise. It hit 28C just before halfway, and hit 30C by the finish, and the Cork retired just before that halfway mark.

It was dull and overcast in Tokyo and it started to rain soon after 9am.

At the sweltering finish in Sapporo, Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir beat her countrywomen and pre-race favourite Brigid Kosgei to take the gold, with the American Molly Seidel the biggest surprise of anyone when winning bronze.

Jepchirchir opened just past the 26 mile marker to win in 2:27:20, Kosgei second in 2:27:36, with Seidel winning bronze in 2:27:46.

Affectionately known as “By Golly Molly”, it was only the third-ever marathon for Seidel, the 25-year-old who nailed her Olympics after finishing third in the US Olympic trials last year, despite holding two jobs at the time.

Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir celebrates wining the Women’s Marathon in Tokyo. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir celebrates wining the Women’s Marathon in Tokyo. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

For McCormack, the 36-year-old mother of two, it was another gutsy run, crossing the line in a time of 2:34:09 for 25th place. She finished 20th in Rio in 2016, running the 5,000 and 10,000m in London 2012, and also running the 3000m steeplechase in Beijing 2008.

Afterwards, she said: "It wasn't the result I had hoped for. . . it was a battle out there today both physical and mental. . . running has broken my heart so many times so I should probably be used to it but I still love it so I'll be back again."

There was still some Irish presence in the top-10 when Mayo born Sinead Diver, representing Australia, came through to take 10th in 2:31:14, passing six runners inside the last five miles, a brilliant run for the 44-year-old.

It was the 25th mile while proved decisive far as the medallists were concerned. First Seidel dropped back, leaving Kosgei and Jepchirchir to battle for the gold. Truth in conditions were brutally hard, and at that point anyone did well just to finish.

Golf

Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow finished tied for 7th place in the women’s stroke play Olympic golf tournament at Kasumageseki Country Club in Tokyo.

The rain-delayed event ended with the USA’s Nelly Korda winning the gold medal, when she shot a final round of 69 for -17, enough to hold on to first place by one stroke.

Meadow shot five under in her final round to finish at -12 and take outright 7th place.

Leona Maguire ended her second Olympic golf event further down the leader board at tied 23rd. Maguire was level par for the day and finished at five under for the tournament.

It was a battling final round for Meadow who fired in birdies on the 7th and 8th holes to go out in 34. In a bogey free round, she added three more birdies on the back nine at 12, 14 and 17 to card a fine round of 66.

In the end she was four shots off the bronze medal score of -16. The final round, which started an hour earlier than planned because of fears of bad weather was stopped when heavy rain fell as the leaders were two holes from finishing.

It was a major comeback for the Meadow who holed a 20-foot putt on Wednesday to stop her score from going out to four over par.

“It’s funny to look back on that point and that putt goes in and all of a sudden you’re 12-under,” said Meadow. “It’s been a great week. I’ve played some great golf the last two days and I’m very happy with that. Just overall, to finish top 10 in the Olympics is something I’ll cherish forever.

“It’s an interesting mentality here. There is no cut and all you’re thinking about is getting a medal so I might take some of that now and set the sights as high as you can and focus on that. That’s something I’ve learned from this week and something I’ll take on.”

Stephanie Meadow finsished seventh in the women’s golf tournament. Photograph: John Cowpland/Inpho
Stephanie Meadow finsished seventh in the women’s golf tournament. Photograph: John Cowpland/Inpho

For the Cavan professional it was a week of what might have been with the Scottish Open and British Open now in her sights on the regular women’s golf tour.

“It’s been a week of what-could-have-been, maybe,” said Maguire. “There was flashes of medal golf in there, just not enough of it. I’d a good front nine yesterday, good back nine today. I didn’t drive well enough this week but take positives with the Scottish and British Opens coming up.”

Leading final scores (par 71)
267 Nelly Korda (USA) 67 62 69 69
268 Mone Inami (Jpn) 70 65 68 65 (won silver at first extra playoff hole), Lydia Ko (Nzl) 70 67 66 65
269 Aditi Ashok (Ind) 67 66 68 68
271 Hannah Green (Aus) 71 65 67 68, Emily Kristine Pedersen (Den) 70 63 70 68 272 Stephanie Meadow (Irl) 72 66 68 66
273 Shanshan Feng (Chn) 74 64 68 67
274 Xiyu Lin (Chn) 71 66 69 68, Nanna Koerstz Madsen (Den) 69 64 72 69, Nasa Hataoka (Jpn) 70 68 67 69, Yuka Saso (Phi) 74 68 67 65, Sei-Young Kim (Kor) 69 69 68 68, Jin-Young Ko (Kor) 68 67 71 68
275 Hyo-Joo Kim (Kor) 70 68 70 67, Wei Ling Hsu (Tai) 69 69 71 66, Jessica Korda (USA) 71 67 73 64
276 Matilda Castren (Fin) 68 70 68 70, Albane Valenzuela (Swi) 71 69 67 69
277 Sanna Nuutinen (Fin) 70 68 69 70, Madelene Sagstroem (Swe) 66 68 71 72, Danielle Kang (USA) 69 69 74 65
279 Klara Spilkova (Cze) 69 70 71 69, Leona Maguire (Irl) 71 67 70 71, Maria Fassi (Mex) 73 70 68 68, Ind-Bee Park (Kor) 69 70 71 69, Anna Nordqvist (Swe) 72 69 68 70, Paphangkorn Tavatanakit (Tha) 71 71 69 68

Cycling

Mark Downey and Felix English did not finish in men’s madison cycling final, which was won by the Danish duo of Michael Morkov and Lasse Hansen.

Speaking afterwards, English said: “That was one of the fastest, well, the fastest race we’ve ever done.
 
“We didn’t really know what to expect, but it was certainly a shock to the system once we got out there. When it was on, the speed was just phenomenal really. It’s stepped up another 10, 20 per cent from Worlds last year.

“It was a struggle. We fought as long as we could but ultimately, it wasn’t enough today.”
 
Downey, who finished 17th in the Olympic Omnium, said: “It’s going to take a while to take the positives from it, but me and Felix have had a rough journey to get here, and we said we would give it our best out there today.
 
“Look, we have to be proud of the journey we have had, we can’t be disappointed, but just as athletes, we want to compete, we want to fight. We want to be there at the end but today, we weren’t, so back to the drawing board.”

Modern pentathalon

Natalya Coyle has been announced as the Irish flag bearer at the Closing Ceremony on Sunday night.

“Yes, it’s an incredible honour, I’m still a bit shocked by it all, and a little bit overwhelmed.

“It’s an incredible honour to be able to walk the team out into the closing ceremony and carry the flag.

“It’s really going to cap a good end to my Games, which is really something that I’m delighted about.

“I think it’s going to be pretty overwhelming, I’d say, it’s going to be amazing and I’m really looking forward to it now.

“To be nominated and to accept it, it’s a real highlight for me.

Natalya Coyle has been announced as the Irish flag bearer at the Closing Ceremony on Sunday night. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Natalya Coyle has been announced as the Irish flag bearer at the Closing Ceremony on Sunday night. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

“The Japanese people have been incredible from the start. When we had our holding camp in Fukuroi, it was amazing, and they were incredible there and they’re even better here.

“To host the Games, I don’t think Japan has got enough credit and enough thanks.

“We’ve been training for this for years and even though it mightn’t have gone as well for me as I’d hoped, it has gone well for other people and just to be able to host the Games, the Japanese need a big round of applause for that.”

Tokyo 2020

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