Olympics 1992 Sunday 9 August: The hill

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The Independent Online
For the marathon that provides the Olympic Games' closing act Barcelona is unlikely to be quite the cauldron that Tokyo was for last year's world championship, but the evening heat and the hill in the last few kilometres will be a severe test of strength. Everyone will want to conserve energy for the late uphill drag, and there could be a big group hanging together until that point.

Using just such a tactic in Tokyo, Japan's Hiromi Taniguchi jumped the field, while the Olympic champion Gelindo Bordin and the fancied Australian Steve Moneghetti, among others, wilted in his wake. Barcelona conditions may be more familiar to Bordin, and Moneghetti will have prepared more specifically for the heat, but all three Japanese will be hard to beat.

The man who did beat them at their national game five years ago, Douglas Wakiihuri, has lost some of the aura that surrounded his initial success. As a Japanese-trained Kenyan he was supposed to command the best of both stereotypical worlds. Results over the past two years have proved him vulnerable, like all others. His compatriot Ibrahim Hussein showed better form as the runaway winner of this year's Boston Marathon.

The Mexicans had to meet the highest standards to get to Barcelona, all three having run world-leading times in the spring. Salvador Garcia looks the toughest of the trio, but he will have to summon up the resources for his third major effort since last November.

The British runners, Dave Long, Steve Brace and Paul Davies-Hale, have all made thorough attempts to acclimatise beforehand, but may not have the confidence to commit themselves to the leading group. That would give them better chances of picking up places as the pack splinters, but probably not enough to get near a medal position.