Athletics: Ronaldo the runner heads for London

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The Independent Online
THE Flora London Marathon will contain a new entrant next year - Ronaldo of Brazil. Not the footballer, but his 28-year-old fellow countryman who last September set a staggering world record in what was only the second marathon of his career.

The 2hr 6min 5sec timing achieved in Berlin by Ronaldo da Costa - to give him his full name - took 45 seconds off Belayneh Dinsamo's 10-year-old mark.

It also established him at the top of the wanted list for the promoters of the world's major marathons. Dave Bedford, race director for the London event, has got his man.

Although there is no connection between this affable runner and his renowned compatriot, the footballing link is not entirely misplaced. Ronaldo da Costa played for some years as a goalkeeper for a local side in his home town of Descoberto, 15 kilometres north of Rio de Janeiro. The region produced an even more famous footballer than Ronaldo - Pele.

But the former custodian has assured himself of a place in the sporting record books by his performance in Berlin two months ago. Having recorded 2:09.07sec for his first marathon on the same course a year earlier, Da Costa put in a phenomenal performance.

"After Berlin, Ronaldo has to be the most sought after and exciting runner in the world of distance running," said Bedford.

Other major signings confirmed yesterday included the Olympic champion, Josia Thugwane of South Africa, and the twice winner Antonio Pinto.

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