Athletics: Ondieki expects running battle

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The Independent Online
THIS year's London Marathon is shaping up to rival a boxing promotion following yesterday's announcement that Lisa Ondieki, the Australian double Commonweath champion and Olympic silver medallist, would challenge Liz McColgan on Sunday, 18 April.

As the women's race will start well before that of the men, the two rivals are likely to remain clear of the milling throng and provide the television cameras with the spectacle of a head-to- head confrontation. At least, that is the marathon organisers' intention.

The ill feeling between the two runners - hardly in the Benn- Eubank league, admittedly - stems from the 1991 New York Marathon, which McColgan, making her first attempt at the distance, won in 2hr 27min 32sec. In her only other marathon, in Tokyo last November, she won in a time six seconds slower.

Ondieki, who finished third in New York, accused the Scottish world 10,000 metres champion of being arrogant in her build-up - when she talked about how she would not waste time running between 2hr 28min and 2hr 26min - and in victory. 'To say she has a healthy opinion of herself is a gross understatement,' said Ondieki. 'With Liz the accent is on intimidation.'

McColgan, speaking yesterday from her training base in Florida, maintained that relations between the two had improved: 'There is no way this is a revenge match. I've talked to Lisa since New York and I've raced against her too.'

Be that as it may, the two are hardly firm friends. Dave Bedford, the international race director, said that Ondieki had agreed to run in the London event specifically on condition that she would not have to be present with McColgan at any pre-race press conference.

'We hardly ever see each other,' Ondieki said yesterday from her training camp 7,000 feet up in Flagstaff, Arizona. 'Liz brushes me up the wrong way because she doesn't respect the distance or the people who have run faster than her. But I have a healthy respect for her as a runner and I think she is good for the sport.'

David Grindley and Darren Campbell, the two major sprint discoveries of 1992, will head Britain's challenge in the Pearl indoor international against Russia at Glasgow's Kelvin Hall on 30 January.

Grindley, from Wigan, who broke the British 400m record and the long-standing domestic supremacy of Derek Redmond and Roger Black en route to the Olympic final, goes over his specialist distance. Campbell, the world junior silver medallist at 100 and 200m, runs the 60m.

The match will include a number of American guests including the world 200m champion, Michael Johnson, the world long jump record holder, Mike Powell, the former double Olympic high hurdles champion, Roger Kingdom, and the 100m bronze medallist at the Barcelona Olympics, Dennis Mitchell.