FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Lel Looks for London Record in 2009
Incredible men's field assembled including Olympic medalists from Beijing,
a former world record holder and past race champions
LONDON - Reigning champion Martin Lel returns to defend his Flora London
Marathon title on Sunday, April 26, 2009 against one of the strongest
fields ever assembled for a big city race.
After victories in 2005, 2007 and 2008, Lel is aiming to become the first
man to win four London Marathons and only the second man to win three in a
row, following the Mexican Dionicio Ceron who had three straight victories
"It's wonderful to be coming back to London," said the 30-year-old Kenyan.
"I have great memories from my last three victories and will be doing my
best to put my name in the record books with a fourth win."
Last year at London, Lel set a superb course record of 2hrs, 5mins, 15secs,
making him the fourth quickest marathon runner ever.
But with all three Olympic medalists from Beijing, a former world record
holder, the first four from London last year, two other previous London
champions, and a much-fancied debutant in the field, this could be the
Kenyan's toughest test yet.
Chief among his challengers will be Sammy Wanjiru whose victory at the
Beijing Olympic Games was described by some as the greatest marathon
performance of all-time. The 22-year-old Kenyan will have high hopes of
improving on his second place last year when he finished just nine seconds
behind his older compatriot.
Wanjiru will again meet stiff opposition from former two-time World
Champion and Olympic silver medalist Jaouad Gharib of Morocco and Olympic
bronze medalist and BUPA Great North Run winner Tsegaye Kebede from
Abderrahim Goumri of Morocco and Kenyan Emmanuel Mutai, third and fourth in
London last year, will also be after their first victories
Khalid Khannouchi of USA, a former world record holder, and Felix Limo of
Kenya, a former world champion, will want to regain the London titles they
won in 2002 and 2006 respectively. Both are hugely experienced marathon
Yet, many will have their eyes on a debutant - Zersenay Tadese. The
Eritrean is a double World half-marathon champion, former world cross
country champion and the 2004 Olympic 10,000m bronze medalist.
Tadese joins his compatriot Yonas Kifle, a sub-2:08 man at his best, while
Viktor Röthlin of Switzerland will lead the European challenge after
finishing sixth at the Olympic Games.
Flora London Marathon race director David Bedford said: "With 11 men who
have run faster than 2:08 this is probably the highest quality field we've
ever assembled for the men's race.
"In particular, we are delighted to welcome back our reigning champion
Martin Lel and the Olympic champion Sammy Wanjiru whose performance so
delighted us this summer.
"But with such tough opposition they will have to be at their very best to
win the 2009 London Marathon title. It's a mouth-watering prospect."
The 2009 Flora London Marathon men's professional field and best times:
Martin Lel (KEN), 2:05:15, defending champion
Sammy Wanjiru (KEN), 2:05:24, Olympic champion, Beijing 2008
Abderrahim Goumri (MAR), 2:05:30, Olympic silver medalist, Beijing 2008
Khalid Khannouchi (USA), 2:05:36, former world record holder
Felix Limo (KEN), 2:06:14, race champion (2006)
Emmanuel Mutai (KEN), 2:06:15
Tsegaye Kebede (ETH), 2:06:40, Olympic bronze medalist, Beijing 2008
Hendrick Ramaala (RSA), 2:06:55
Jaouad Gharib (MAR), 2:07:02
Viktor Röthlin (SUI), 2:07:23
Yonas Kifle (ERI), 2:07:34
Tessema Abshiro (ETH), 2:08:26
Dathan Ritzenhein (USA, 2:11:06
Zersenay Tadese (ERI), debut
Hicham Bellani (MAR), debut
For further information, visit: London-Marathon.co.uk