Sum­gong on song for Lon­don?

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

LON­DON: Kenya’s Olympic marathon cham­pion Jemima Sum­gong will de­fend her Lon­don ti­tle in April against one of the strong­est fields as­sem­bled for a city race, hav­ing re­cov­ered from a fall to win last year, or­gan­is­ers said yes­ter­day.

Sum­gong, 32, cracked her head on the road 4.8km from the end of last year’s race, but bounced to her feet and fought back to take vic­tory with a ter­rific late burst.

Four months later she be­came the first Kenyan woman to win Olympic marathon gold.

Com­pa­triot Mary Kei­tany, who also fell after tan­gling with Sum­gong but faded to ninth in Lon­don last year, re­turns for the race on April 23 seek­ing a third win to match the hat-trick of New York City Marathon ti­tles she com­pleted last Novem­ber.

Kei­tany, 35, be­came the sec­ond fastest women’s marathon run­ner of all time, be­hind Bri­ton Paula Rad­cliffe, when she won her sec­ond Lon­don race in 2012 in 2.18:37, but her lowly fin­ish last year cost her a spot in Kenya’s Rio Olympics team.

Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba, who won bronze in Rio be­hind Bahrain’s Eu­nice Kirwa, is an­other big name in a line-up that in­cludes all three medal­lists from last year’s race, three of the top five fin­ish­ers in Rio, four pre­vi­ous Lon­don Marathon cham­pi­ons, and the win­ners at last year’s Ab­bott World Marathon.

“Lon­don is the marathon ev­ery run­ner wants to win,” said Sum­gong. “I can’t wait to re­turn to de­fend my ti­tle.”

Kei­tany, for­merly half-marathon world record holder, is also des­per­ate to do well.

“I love run­ning in Lon­don,” she said. “After the sick­ness I had be­fore the race and the fall last year dur­ing the race, I want to show ev­ery­one what I can do.

“My goal is to win the Vir­gin Money Lon­don Marathon for the third time and to demon­strate to ev­ery­body that I could have won the Olympic Games last year if I had been se­lected.”

Also in the field is Ethiopia’s triple Olympic and five-time world track cham­pion Tirunesh Dibaba, who fin­ished third on her marathon de­but in Lon­don three years ago.

“This is a stel­lar field and ev­ery­one who is any­one in women’s marathon run­ning will be in Lon­don” said race di­rec­tor Hugh Brasher.

A sim­i­larly im­pres­sive men’s field was an­nounced last week, with Ethiopia’s Ke­nenisa Bekele, the sec­ond-fastest marathon run­ner in his­tory and prob­a­bly the great­est all-round dis­tance run­ner, top of the bill.

Bekele, due to com­pete in the Dubai marathon on Fri­day, ran two hours three min­utes three sec­onds to win in Ber­lin last Septem­ber, six sec­onds out­side Kenyan Den­nis Kimetto’s world record there in 2014 and which will be in his sights this year. — Reuters

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