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Women’s review: Gelana returns for more London glory

09 April 2013

Eight months after winning Olympic gold in London last August, Tiki Gelana will be back in the British capital on Sunday 21 April seeking to become the first Ethiopian to win the women's London Marathon title since Derartu Tulu in 2001.

Gelana heads a field that boasts four athletes who have run quicker than two hours 20 minutes, 10 who have gone under 2:25, and five of the 20 quickest runners of all time.

Among those who will line up for the 26.2-mile journey are two of the three 2012 Olympic medallists, the gold and silver medallists from the 2011 World Championships, and champions from numerous major city marathons such as Berlin, Chicago, New York, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Paris, Rotterdam and Frankfurt.

After her bloody and bruising Olympic victory, Gelana has proved she will be a tough athlete to beat, especially in the absence of the two previous London champions, Mary Keitany and Liliya Shobukhova, who are both pregnant. She also holds the quickest time in the field thanks to her winning run at the 2012 Rotterdam Marathon when she crossed the line in 2:18:58, making her the fourth fastest woman in history.

Her task will be far from easy, however, for those ranged against her include five highly-decorated Kenyans, three of whom are sub-2:20 runners, their collective aim to keep the crown in Kenya's hands for a third year running.

World champion Edna Kiplagat hopes to step up a place after finishing third and second here in the last two years, while last year's number three, Priscah Jeptoo, will be looking to reach the top of the podium this time after chasing Gelana home to take silver at the Olympics.

Florence Kiplagat, the 2011 Berlin Marathon champion, will also have something to prove after she missed out on Olympic selection in 2012.

Kenyans filled the top five places last year, but Gelana has strong Ethiopian back-up this year in the shape of Atsede Baysa and Meselech Melkamu who both come to London with high hopes after big marathon wins last autumn.

Baysa won the Chicago Marathon in style, while Melkamu enjoyed a winning debut in Frankfurt at the end of October.

Yoko Shibui is the quickest of five Japanese athletes in the field, one of a select few women to have gone quicker than 2:20, although Yukiko Akaba is most likely to threaten the medals should the Africans slip up. Akaba has been fifth in London twice in recent years.

Portuguese star Jéssica Augusto is the leading European this year. A vastly experienced international, Augusto will hope to improve on her eighth place finish here in the last two races.

British interest is focused on the 2012 Olympian, Freya Ross, who was 13th on her debut 12 months' ago.

Many of the elite women will appear at a Virgin London Marathon press conference at the Tower Hotel, London, on Thursday 18 April, followed by a press conference with the leading British runners in this year's race. Click here for full details.

Elite Women: Entries

Bib no.       Name                                     Nation         PB                   Bib name

102             Tiki Gelana                             ETH            2:18:58            GELANA

104             Yoko Shibui                            JPN             2:19:41            SHIBUI

105             Florence Kiplagat                    KEN            2:19:44            F KIPLAGAT

106             Edna Kiplagat                         KEN            2:19:50            E KIPLAGAT

107             Priscah Jeptoo                        KEN            2:20:14            JEPTOO

108             Meselech Melkamu                  ETH            2:21:01            MELKAMU

109             Atsede Baysa                          ETH            2:22:03            BAYSA

110             Yukiko Akaba                          JPN            2:24:09            AKABA

111             Remi Nakazato                        JPN            2:24:28            NAKAZATO

112             Jéssica Augusto                       POR           2:24:33            AUGUSTO

113             Alevtina Biktimirova                 RUS           2:25:12            BIKTIMIROVA

114             Mai Ito                                    JPN            2:25:26            ITO

115             Chika Horie                             JPN             2:26:11           HORIE

118             Olga Dubovskaya                    BLR             2:28:08           DUBOVSKAYA

119             Freya Ross                              GBR            2:28:10           ROSS

120             Adriana da Silva                      BRA             2:29:17           DA SILVA

121             Irvette van Zyl                        RSA             2:33:41           VAN ZYL

122             Amy Whitehead                       GBR             2:33:44           WHITEHEAD

 123             Susan Partridge                      GBR             2:34:13           PARTRIDGE

124             Joyce Chepkirui                       KEN              Debut              CHEPKIRUI


Click here to see all the 2013 Virgin London Marathon entry lists.