Elite field awaits Farah in debut as London Marathon today

AFP

LONDON: Double Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah makes his London Marathon debut on Sunday with the British record, rather than outright victory, in his sights. Organisers have assembled a top-class field for the 31-year-old's first competitive race over the 26.2 mile course including the Kenyan trio of Wilson Kipsang, who set the current world marathon record of two hours three minutes 23 seconds at September's Berlin Marathon. Also included are Emmanuel Mutai, who set the London course record of 2:04:40 in winning three years ago, and Geoffrey Mutai, twice winner in New York.
Uganda's world and Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich will also be on the start line as will Ethiopia's double London champion Tsegaye Kebede and compatriot Haile Gebrselassie, who, at the age of 40, will seek to take the field through to the three-quarters mark in world record pace. Doubts over the participation of Farah, the 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres gold medallist at the 2012 Olympics in London and last year's world championships in Moscow, were raised when, having fallen early on, he collapsed after the finish of the New York City half-marathon last month. "I fell over early on and it was just hard after that because you're so tired," Farah said.  "The reason I collapsed afterwards was I gave 110 percent, I gave all I could and towards the last four miles I was really feeling it, I was seeing stars and I was out of it completely. 
"I'm fine and I'm glad what happened in New York didn't happen here."  Farah added: "It has happened before, when I ran cross country in 2009 so I wasn't worried at all.  "I didn't really miss any training, the fall was more worrying for me than what happened afterwards but fortunately I just had a few scratches on my hip and my back." Wisely, Farah has put to one side suggestions he might win on Sunday and is instead aiming to break Steve Jones's British record of 2:07:13, which has stood since 1985. "My main target is definitely to go after the British record," Farah said. "Hopefully I can the break it and then we'll see what comes with it. 
"It's going to be an incredible race whatever happens because if you look at the field, it's something very special. "I know with my confidence on the track I should be there but at the same time the distance for me is a challenge. It's something I'm going to find out if I can do or not and that's what I wanted, I wanted to test myself.  "I'll go out there and go with the group and try to be patient – that's my aim, not to waste too much energy. The most important thing is to respect the distance." Meanwhile Kebede said: "I am in good shape and I want to win again. I'm saying, 'I will win again'." 

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