Olympic champion Jemima Sumgong has announced that she will defend her Virgin Money London Marathon title on Sunday 23rd April against one of the strongest women’s fields ever assembled for the London marathon.
Sumgong overcame a fall to beat the world’s best last year and went on to make history in Rio when she became the first Kenyan woman to win Olympic marathon gold.
World Champion Mare Dibaba, who won bronze in Rio will be one of Sumgong’s main rivals in London from a field containing four women who have broken the two hours 20 minute barrier and no fewer than nine who have run quicker than 2:22.
The line-up announced today includes all three medallists from last year’s London Marathon, three of the top five finishers from the Rio Games, four previous London Marathon champions, and the winners at last year’s Abbott World Marathon Majors races in Tokyo, Berlin, Chicago and New York.
The quickest on paper is Mary Keitany who will be aiming to become only the fourth woman to win the London Marathon three times after completing a hat-trick of New York City Marathon titles last November. Keitany became the second fastest women marathon runner of all time when she won her second London Marathon in 2012 in 2:18:37.
Other ontenders include Florence Kiplagat, the 2016 Chicago champion and half marathon world record holder who was third here last year and second in 2014; last year’s Tokyo Marathon champion and 2015 world silver medallist Helah Kiprop; plus the Olympic 5,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot who will make her marathon debut at the age of 33.
Joining Mare Dibaba for the Ethiopian challenge, will be Tirunesh Dibaba, the triple Olympic and five-time world track champion, who finished third on her marathon debut in London three years ago; the 2015 London champion Tigist Tufa, who was second here last year; three-times Berlin Marathon champion Aberu Kebede, who has also won the Frankfurt, Tokyo and Rotterdam marathons; and the 2010 London champion Aselefech Mergia, who has triumphed three times in the Dubai Marathon in recent years.
Although the race has been dominated by Africans runners in recent years, European, Australian and British runners will hope to bridge the gap.
Former European 10,000m champion Ana Dulce Felix ran her best time on the London course, when she was eighth in 2015. The Portuguese international returns this year after being placed 16th in Rio.
Former Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Lisa Weightman runs for Australia while Rio Olympian Alyson Dixon will be favourite to win the British battle for World Championship places against fellow internationals Louise Damen, Charlotte Purdue and Susan Partridge.
For more information , visit the London Marathon website here
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