Athletics: Chinese asked to race in London

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The Independent Online
CHINESE runners, including Wang Junxia, the double world record-holder, will run in next April's London Marathon if an initiative taken over the weekend by the event organisers proves successful.

David Bedford, London's international race director, briefed Chinese officials here, where Wang won the World Cup marathon title on Sunday and her team-mates filled the next three places.

'I don't think they have decided if they want a spring marathon,' Bedford said. 'If they want one, they understand London and how it works.'

Wang's participation would raise the intriguing prospect of a meeting between the world 10,000 metres champion and her predecessor, Liz McColgan, who signed a contract worth pounds 500,000 last year to run three successive London Marathons.

Wang would not be drawn into where her next race or marathon might be, saying only: 'All our competition calendar will be organised by the Chinese Athletics Federation.' But she did say the prize-money won on Sunday - the Chinese took away pounds 80,000 - would help fund a coaching project back home. The London event, with appearance money, time bonuses and greater prize-money, offers the fledgling scheme a possibility of spectacular advancement.

Although Richard Nerurkar is pounds 26,000 richer for his own efforts on Sunday, which brought him the men's World Cup title and helped Britain earn the team bronze, the generation of further funds is not top of his agenda.

Rather than planning a lucrative spring marathon, he will seek to make an impact in the World Cross-Country Championships, and then concentrate on the European Championships.

The British hurdlers, Colin Jackson and Sally Gunnell, were named yesterday as international athletes of the year by the International Amateur Athletic Federation. Wang Junxia was placed second in the women's poll.