Athletics: Martin runs into riches: Marathon deal may be worth pounds 1/4 m

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The Independent Online
EAMONN MARTIN was yesterday rewarded for 20 years of long-distance toil with a pounds 250,000-plus deal for the London Marathon.

The 35-year-old Martin has signed a two-year agreement with the organisers of the event, sponsored by NutraSweet, which is understood to guarantee him at least pounds 200,000 for defending his title in April and for running in the 1995 race.

With bonus incentives and prize- money taken into account, Martin could be looking at a final figure approaching pounds 300,000 for his commitment if he repeats last year's marathon debut victory.

'He is only getting the rewards he so richly deserves,' Mel Batty said. The coach landed one of the biggest deals in British athletics for Martin after months of bargaining with David Bedford, the London Marathon's race director. 'He saved the day for the sponsors last year.'

'I had figures in my mind before Mel sat down with Dave and once they were realised I was happy,' Martin said. 'I have served a hell of a long apprenticeship to get to the stage where I could run a fast marathon and I wanted to make sure my reward reflected my ability.'

'It was absolutely essential that we got him,' said Bedford, who has a pounds 1m budget to attract the world's best athletes. 'If we had announced this year's race without him in the field you could have felt that people involved in the organising had fallen down on their job.'

Other big-money marathons, including Boston and Tokyo, wanted the services of a runner who made one of the most stunning marathon debuts in London. Martin, though, said: 'It means everything to me. I would much rather run in London than anywhere else and I am well aware that no man has ever won it twice.'

Bedford rates his chances of an unprecedented double on 17 April as 'exceptional', while Martin himself reckons he will be using his next two London races as an opportunity to hone his challenge for the 1996 Olympic title in Atlanta.