Athletics: Sutton talking tough

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The Independent Online
Marian Sutton will be out to have the last laugh in the London Marathon this year as she sets out to prove a point to the British selectors. Sutton was only a reserve for the British marathon team for the Olympic games last year, a decision she later described as "a joke".

But she bounced back to win the Chicago Marathon in October with a personal best for the biggest victory of her athletics career. And, with a place in the World Championships in Athens at stake, she will be out to prove that was no fluke in the London event on 13 April.

This year the British Athletic Federation has designated the event a trial for the Athens games, with the first British woman and man not already selected for the event guaranteed a place in Greece.

And Sutton will be among the favourites, along with defending champion Liz McColgan, although she says it will not make up for the disappointment of missing out on Atlanta. Sutton, who is a solicitor's secretary in Looe, Cornwall, said: "I received the phone call explaining I'd been selected as a reserve and waited for the punchline. I thought it was a joke. It wasn't. I was totally devastated, I was totally destroyed."

Sutton did briefly contemplate quitting the sport. But she decided she loved athletics too much to leave and returned to the serious training which culminated in her Chicago win.

Sutton and McColgan face a strong challenge from a high-quality international field which includes 1996 New York champion Anuta Catuna from Romania, the world half-marathon champion Ren Xiujuan from China and Renata Kokowska from Poland who has the fastest time of the field.

And the men's field is even more competitive with the announcement yesterday that the Olympic champion, Josiah Thugwane, will compete over the 26 mile 385 yards course which passes some of London's most famous sites.

Thugwane, who became the first black South African to win Olympic gold when he won the marathon in the centennial games in Atlanta, heads the elite men's field with three time champion Dionicio Ceron of Mexico missing.

The 1992 champion Antonio Pinto of Portugal, American No 1 Jerry Lawson and Australian Steve Moneghetti, twice a runner-up and with the fastest personal best of this year's field, will make it a close race.

The strong British challenge for overall honours is headed by Paul Evans, who won the men's marathon in Chicago, 1993 champion Eamonn Martin and Richard Nerurkar, who finished fifth in the Atlanta race.

The event, which will be started by Linford Christie, has attracted a record number of entries, over 27,000, and will again be screened live by BBC1.

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