Veteran El Amin Chentouf of Morocco defended his title in the T12 marathon for visually impaired athletes, smashing his own Paralympic record by over three minutes to finish in 2:21:43.
As early as by the 10km mark, Chentouf began his break away from the leading pack, and never looked in any trouble as he ran alone through the damp and drizzle of Tokyo.
Chentouf looked comfortable at every stage of the marathon. The timings showed, at every measuring stage the Moroccan had separated himself further from the pack, which included Australian Jarryd Clifford, who broke the world record in Sydney earlier this year. Chentouf completed the first half of the marathon in a blistering 1:11:01. His second half was even faster at 1:10:42.
By the time Chentouf entered the National Olympic Stadium in Tokyo to run the final 500m, he looked weary but assured as he pushed on to smash the Paralympic record.
Chentouf, 40, celebrated as he crossed the finishing line, pumping his chest and then waving to the supporters and volunteers inside the stadium, before being draped in the Morocco flag.
"I am the Eliud Kipchoge of the Paralympics," said Chentouf, referring to the Kenyan marathon great who retained his Olympic gold last month. "Marathon is based on experience and I have got the experience."
Further back in the field, Tunisian’s Wajdi Boukhili had been well placed to take the bronze until the 40km mark, where both he and compatriot Hatem Nasrallah slowed up to finish sixth and fourth, respectively. The bronze medal went to Tadashi Horikoshi of Japan.
Chentouf’s gold was the fourth for Morocco during the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, all of which have been won in athletics. Abdeslam Hili and Ayoub Sadni won gold in the men’s 400m in the T12 and T47 classes, respectively, and Zakariae Derhem topped the podium in the men’s shot put F33 class.
Tokyo 2020 has been Morocco’s most successful haul at the Paralympics, with 11 medals in total including claiming a historic bronze medal in the five-a-side football on Saturday.