Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hero Lel Expects to Be Fit to Lead a Really Fast Show; the Triple Winner Should Overcome His Hip Problem Today as a Field of Champions Plot a World-Record Time. THE LONDON MARATHON

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hero Lel Expects to Be Fit to Lead a Really Fast Show; the Triple Winner Should Overcome His Hip Problem Today as a Field of Champions Plot a World-Record Time. THE LONDON MARATHON

Article excerpt

Byline: David Smith

MARTIN LEL is hoping to be declared fit today to defend his Flora London Marathon title and the Kenyan's presence on the start line could lead to the world record coming under attack from the event's best-ever gathering of elite long-distance runners.

Lel had an MRI scan on a hip complaint late last night and the early indications were that it is not serious.

That is good news for race director David Bedford. He will now be able to boast that the men's marathon will feature reigning Olympic champion Sammy Wanjiru and another four of the first six runners home in Beijing last year. There are also the first four from the 2008 London epic, world marathon champion Luke Kibet, Zersenay Tadese -- who has held world titles at 20km road running, cross-country and half-marathon -- and six of the top 14 quickest men of all time.

The target is the world best mark of 2hrs 3mins 59secs set by Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie in Berlin seven months ago. And Wanjiru, for one, is up for the challenge. "If the pace is very good on Sunday, I'll try to break the world record," he said. The 22-year-old's fellow Kenyans Elijah Kitani and John Kales are the designated pacemakers who will be instructed to keep to a world record schedule for the first 20 miles.

They are likely to have lots of company as last April seven runners were on world record pace until the 21st mile.

It was lanky Lel who produced the strongest kick to take his third London title in a course record 2hrs 5mins 15secs, just nine seconds ahead of Wanjiru.

The 30-year-old is now going for an unprecedented fourth win around the streets of the capital and claimed: "London has the cream. It can invite the strongest runners from all over the world and you know that if you win you are the champion of champions." Wanjiru would dispute that claim, given the manner in which he survived the searing heat of Beijing to become Kenya's first Olympic marathon champion in a staggering 2hrs 6mins 32secs, obliterating the Games record. …

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