Olympic champion Jemima Sumgong will defend her Virgin Money London Marathon title on Sunday 23 April against one of the strongest women’s fields ever assembled for a major city marathon.
Sumgong defied the odds last April when she recovered from a bruising fall to beat the world’s best in the British capital with a devastating finish. The 32-year-old went on to make history in Rio when she became the first Kenyan woman to win Olympic marathon gold, defeating Ethiopia’s world champion Mare Dibaba in Brazil to confirm her status as the world’s number one marathon runner of 2016.
Dibaba, who won bronze in Rio behind Bahrain’s Eunice Kirwa, will be one of Sumgong’s main rivals in London from a field containing four women who have broken the iconic two hours 20 minute barrier and no fewer than nine who have run quicker than 2:22. Sumong said;
London is the marathon every runner wants to win. I can’t wait to return to defend my title.”
The line-up, which was announced last week, includes all three medalists from last year’s London Marathon, three of the top five finishers from the Rio Games, four previous London Marathon champions, and the winners at last year’s Abbott World Marathon Majors races in Tokyo, Berlin, Chicago and New York.
The quickest on paper is again Mary Keitany who will be aiming to become only the fourth woman to win the London Marathon three times after completing a hat-trick of New York City Marathon titles last November.
The domestic competition for Kenyan runners will be fierce as the elite line-up also includes Florence Kiplagat, the 2016 Chicago champion and half marathon world record holder who was third here last year and second in 2014; last year’s Tokyo Marathon champion and 2015 world silver medallist Helah Kiprop; plus the Olympic 5,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot who will make her marathon debut at the age of 33.
Hugh Brasher, Event Director, said;
This is a stellar field and everyone who is anyone in women’s marathon running will be in London on 23 April,”