Marathoner Molly Seidel Receives USA's Very Last Tokyo Medal During Closing Ceremony
Seidel, 27, came in third in the women's marathon on Saturday morning.
But the official ceremony for the victors — including Kenya's Peres Jepchirchir and Brigid Kosgei — was not held until Sunday night's Olympic closing, giving the winners an extra layer of pomp and circumstance.
They were surrounded by hundreds of athletes from other countries, a flaming Olympic cauldron and the eyes of numerous TV cameras and press in the stands.
While boxer Richard Torrez Jr. won the last Tokyo Olympic medal for the U.S., Seidel received the country's final honor.
After the trio of women received their medals, the men's marathon winners were given theirs.
Tokyo organizers say they work with the International Olympic Committee to determine the medal ceremonies to award during the closing and that the tradition is for it to be the marathon.
Seidel, who ran her first 26.2-mile race last February, won the first women's marathon medal for the U.S. since Deena Kastor got bronze in 2004; and Seidel is now only the third U.S. woman to make it onto the podium in the event, period.
She was running only her third marathon ever.
While she told reporters on Saturday that she had no certainty about a medal finish — "I was hoping to be in the top 10, really" — she also said she had made it to the marathon hoping to leave her mark.
"I love that slow grind and squeezing it down at the end," Seidel said Saturday. "It is very different from some of the shorter races. I still love doing the shorter stuff and I hope to still do shorter races to keep that sharpness. But, man, I love this race."