London Marathon: Confident McColgan prepares defence defenc

LONDON MARATHON: Hopes are high for British success but Olympic champion Thugwane is the one to beat in the men's race

Liz McColgan, who finally produced the race to match her rhetoric last April in winning the Flora London Marathon, is talking up her chance of becoming the first British runner to defend the title since Joyce Smith in 1982.

The 32-year-old defending champion, who appeared yesterday alongside Britain's latest high profile woman marathon runner Marian Sutton, has grown more cautious in her pre-race predictions over the years.

The runner who said before her first London race in 1993 that she would not be surprised to run under 2hr 20min - more than a minute inside the world best - has learned from experience how capricious the 26.2- mile distance can be. Hers is now a tempered optimism.

"There are 10 athletes out there who can win this thing," she said. "I know that I will have to be at my very best to win. Fortunately I have had the ideal preparation. There has been no break in my training since Christmas and it is well within my capabilities."

McColgan, whose hopes of earning a medal at last year's Olympics were undermined by blood poisoning following an insect bite, plans to make up for the experience at Sydney in three years' time.

In the meantime, she is thinking positively about running in this summer's World Championships in Athens - for which Sunday's race doubles as the British trial - despite the widespread fears about the heat and pollution there. "If I decide to run and I am selected then I will definitely go to Athens."

Sutton, who put herself on the map with her victory in Chicago last October in a time of 2:30:41, is less certain about Athens. The 6ft runner was, in her own words, "devastated" by the decision of Britain's selectors not to choose her for the Olympic team last summer, and had travelled to Chicago determined to prove a point.

But looking forward to this year's World Championships, to be held in the summer smog of Athens, is something which generates ambivalence, at best. "I'll see what happens here before making any decisions about the World Championships," she said yesterday. "I don't particularly relish the idea of running 26 miles in Athens."

The 33-year-old solicitor's clerk, who trains on her own in her Cornish home town of Looe, improved her personal best by nearly two minutes to earn what was her first marathon win. "A sub-2:30 run is within me," she said. "But maybe not on Sunday. I have to be sensible about the pace. I have times in mind but it's important to stick to what I know."

For all that her Chicago win surprised many people - not least, one suspects, the British selectors - she herself had gone into the race confident of a very good performance, if not outright victory. "I never had any doubt about my own ability," she said. "I always thought that I would reach this level so it's been no surprise to me. And there is certainly more to come."

In truth, there will have to be if she is to maintain contact with an impressively strong field including McColgan, the Portuguese world and European champion Manuela Machado, and Ren Xiujuan of China, who took the world half-marathon title last October and has won three of her five marathon outings to date despite being only 22.

Ren has asked for a pacemaker to take her through the half-way mark on world record schedule with the aim of breaking the world best for the distance held by Norway's Ingrid Kristiansen, who ran 2:21:06 in London 12 years ago.

David Bedford, the race director of the London Marathon, believes that tomorrow's race could be the best in the event's 16-year history. "We have assembled what I think are two of the most talented fields ever put together for a marathon," the former 10,000 metres world record holder said.

The obvious attraction in the men's race is the Olympic champion, Josiah Thugwane, and Bedford is known to have spent a considerable amount of his pounds 625,000 budget in obtaining the South African's services. Thugwane is reputed to have been paid $100,000 (pounds 62,500) to run although Bedford refused to name the figure. "We never discuss appearance fees but getting an Olympic champion in the race was a priority," he said.

The 5ft 2in South African showed huge strength in taking the Olympic title, but his relatively slow personal best of 2:11:46 - run, admittedly, in the Atlanta heat - and his relative lack of experience in big city marathons has left many observers looking towards the more tried and tested talents of Portugal's Antonio Pinto, winner in London in 1992 and third in 1995, and Australia's Steve Moneghetti, the runner-up in 1989 and 1995. The reigning world half-marathon champion, Stefano Baldini of Italy, and America's Jerry Lawson are also men to look out for.

But the most intriguing aspect of the men's race appears to be the first meeting of Britain's top two men - Paul Evans, like Sutton a winner in Chicago, and Richard Nerurkar, who was fifth in Atlanta.

"What Richard did in the Olympic marathon was outstanding," Evans said. "To come fifth in those conditions was an unbelievable performance. He's going to be a tough nut to crack."

The question is, if Evans does crack it, will that be enough to become the first British male winner here since Eamonn Martin in 1993?

Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Arts and Entertainment
books
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone