Olympics the Goal as Mutai Defends His Title Against Fellow Kenyans
Emmanuel Mutai will lead a six-strong Kenyan assault on the 2012 Virgin
London Marathon in April when he defends his men's title against world
record holder Patrick Makau just three months before the London Olympic
Mutai smashed the London course record to win the 2011 race in 2 hours 4
minutes 40 seconds, but he may have to be even quicker in 2012 as
competition will be fiercer than ever with places on Kenya's Olympic team
up for grabs.
Kenyan Olympic selectors named a provisonal list of six men for the Games
earlier this week with the final three to be announced on 30 April, just
eight days after the London Marathon.
As well as Mutai and Makau, the list includes double world champion Abel
Kirui and Frankfurt champion Wilson Kipsang. All four will race in London
on 22 April along with two other Kenyan contenders: three-times London
champion Martin Lel, who was second last year, and Vincent Kipruto, the
world silver medallist in Daegu.
After finishing third in London last April, Makau won his place on the
selectors' shortlist when he broke Haile Gebrselassie's world record in
Berlin last September with 2:03:38. Kirui sealed his spot when he retained
his world title at the Daegu World Championships last summer.
Mutai followed up his record-breaking London victory by finishing second in
New York last November, pocketing half a million dollars as World Marathon
Majors champion. Kipsang was just four seconds outside Makau's world record
when he retained his Frankfurt title at the end of October.
The other men named by Kenya's selectors are Geoffrey Mutai and Moses
Mosop, who ran superfast times to finish first and second in Boston last
April, the fastest race ever run. Mutai will compete there again just six
days before the London Marathon on 16th April and Mosop will take part in
Rotterdam on 15th April, seven days before London.
Kenyan runners won all six World Marathon Majors races in 2011 plus
virtually every other significant city marathon. They also filled all but
three of the top 20 places on the 2011 world list, so it's no surprise that
the six Kenyans hold the six fastest times in a London elite field that
includes 10 men who have run 26.2 miles in under 2:06.
Virgin London Marathon race director David Bedford said: "Last year was an
amazing one for Kenyan marathon runners around the world and we are
delighted to welcome this hugely talented half dozen to London for the 2012
"With the Olympic men's marathon due to be held here exactly 16 weeks
later, we expect the battle for podium places to be even more ferocious
The Olympic Games will be on the minds of many other athletes too,
including Ethiopia's Tsegaye Kebede, the only non-Kenyan to win the London
men's title in the last eight years.
Following a mixed year in 2011, when he was fifth in London and third in
New York, the talented 2010 champion leads the challenge to Kenyan
dominance again this year.
Kebede will be joined by four fellow countrymen, all chasing places in
Ethiopia's Olympic squad, plus Morocco's Olympic silver medallist and
former double world champion Jaouad Gharib, the world half marathon record
holder, Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea, and Brazil's two-time New York champion
Marilson dos Santos.
Kebede's compatriots include Bazu Worku, the former world junior record
holder who was third in Berlin in 2010 aged just 20, Feyisa Lelisa, bronze
medallist at the Daegu World Championships, Markos Geneti who won the Los
Angeles marathon on his debut last year, and Abreham Cherkos who was fifth
Tadese will be supported by two other quality Eritreans in Yared Asmeron
and Samuel Tsegay, both quicker than 2:07:30, while Gharib will have fellow
Moroccans Abderrahim Bouramdane and Adil Annani for company. Australians
Scott Westcott and Martin Dent are also in the line-up.
Olympic selection is the goal for Britain's men too. There are two spots to
fill after Scott Overall secured his place finishing fifth in Berlin. The
contenders need to be first Briton home and run faster than 2:12 to
Among them are Newham's Lee Merrien, who was 14th in 2011 in a personal
best of 2:14:27, and four athletes who have run around 2:15 – Benedict
Whitby of Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow, Andi Jones from Salford, Phil
Wicks of Belgrave and Morpeth Harrier Ian Hudspith.
Also in the running are Ben Moreau, Anthony Ford, Martin Williams, Phil
Nicholls and John Beattie, while James Walsh will make his debut.
"The battle for British Olympic places will be an intriguing part of next
year's race," said Bedford, a member of UKA's marathon selection panel.
"With the Olympic Games in London just three months later the incentive for
British marathon runners couldn't be greater."
Elite Men Personal Best
Emmanuel Mutai (Kenya) 2:04:40
Patrick Makau (Kenya) 2:03:38
Wilson Kipsang (Kenya) 2:03:42
Abel Kirui (Kenya) 2:05:04
Vincent Kipruto (Kenya) 2:05:13
Martin Lel (Kenya) 2:05:15
Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia) 2:05:18
Feyisa Lilesa (Ethiopia) 2:05:23
Bazu Worku (Ethiopia) 2:05:25
Jaouad Gharib (Morocco) 2:05:27
Marilson Gomes dos Santos (Brazil)2:06:34
Markos Geneti (Ethiopia) 2:06:35
Yared Asmeron (Eritrea) 2:07:27
Samuel Tsegay (Eritrea) 2:07:28
Abreham Cherkos (Ethiopia) 2:07:29
Abderrahim Bouramdane (Morocco) 2:07:33
Adil Annani (Morocco) 2:10:15
Scott Westcott (Australia) 2:11:36
Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) 2:12:03
Martin Dent (Australia) 2:12:23
Leading British Men PB
Lee Merrien 2:14:27
Benedict Whitby 2:15:09
Andi Jones 2:15:20
Phil Wicks 2:15:38
Ian Hudspith 2:15:47
Ben Moreau 2:16:46
Anthony Ford 2:17:16
Martin Williams 2:17:36
Phil Nicholls 2:19:21
John Beattie 2:23:43
James Walsh Debut