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Athletics: McColgan seeks London tonic

Liz McColgan, still coming to terms with her disappointment in the Olympic marathon, will renew her search for medals this year by defending her London title on April - and, perhaps, retracing the old territories of cross-country and the 10,000 metres.

"If I'd won in Atlanta, that might have been it," said McColgan, now 32, who was 16th in the marathon after an insect bite made her ill before the race. "I might have called it a day. It would have been hard to top and to keep the momentum going.

"I was gutted by what happened. In hindsight I should never have started because I was in a pretty bad way. So the incentive is still there. It remains important for me to try to win medals for my country.

"I want to keep my options open and see how training goes. I'm not ruling anything out this year. It's very difficult to keep doing marathon, marathon, marathon and then recover from those races. I know I was in great 10,000m shape before the Olympics. There was definitely a personal best in me on the track."

McColgan may yet decide to turn the clock back and attempt to regain the world 10,000 metres title she won in 1991 at this year's World Championships in Athens. She may also run the World Cross-Country Championships for the first time for five years in Turin.

McColgan has always talked a good season, as well as a race, and in past years she has had often had to trim back her proposed commitments because of injuries - but she will explore the possibilities after teaming up next week with her coach, Grete Waitz, at her Florida training base. McColgan's immediate thoughts, however, are geared to London, where she believes that Veronique Marot's eight-year-old British record could come under threat.

"The harder the race, the better," said McColgan, who will face Cornwall's Chicago Marathon winner, Marian Sutton, plus an overseas line-up yet to be announced.

Richard Nerurkar and Paul Evans, Britain's top two marathon runners, will go head-to-head in the men's event. Nerurkar, who runs London for the first time, was fifth in Atlanta, his fourth successive top 10 placing in major championships. He was seventh in the 1995 World Championships, fourth in the 1994 Europeans and won the World Cup marathon in 1993.

After pursuing a purist championship-based strategy for the past three years, and investing many thousands of his own pounds in training at altitude in places like Kenya, Nerurkar, now 33, is pursuing big money in what will be his first big city marathon. He deserves to cash in after all his recent efforts.

Evans finished third in London last year and went on to win Chicago in 2hr 08min 52sec. Only two Britons have run faster: Steve Jones (2:07.13) and Charlie Spedding (2:08.33). "Last year was a great one for British athletes in major world marathons," London's international co-ordinator, David Bedford, said. "Now we will bring together the strongest British field in our 17-year history."

There will be an added incentive in the form of automatic selection for the World Championships in August for the top man and woman not already pre-selected.