LONDON, Apr 26 – Olympic champion Sammy Wanjiru of Kenya won the men’s race in the London Marathon on Sunday in a course record time of two hours, five minutes and 10 seconds.
The 22-year-old beat the London record time of 2:05:15 set by compatriot Martin Lel, last year’s winner, who withdrew on Saturday because of a hip injury.
Meanwhile defending champion Irina Mikitenko of Germany won the women’s race in a time of 2:22:11.
Wanjiru led home the first three from the Beijing Games, although in this race the minor placings were reversed, with the trio all finishing in personal best times.
Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede, the bronze medallist in China, was second in 2:05:20 after pushing Wanjiru hard all the way while Morocco’s Jaouad Gharib finished in third in 2:05:27.
After a trio of pacemakers had set off at a blistering early speed, it had seemed as if Ethiopian distance running great’s Haile Gebrselassie’s world record time of 2:03:59 set in Berlin in September was under threat.
But hopes of a new world record started to fade at around the halfway mark.
"I get the course record but my target was the world record. The last 10km was very hard because I ran alone," Wanjiru, who made a series of bursts to stay ahead of Kebede, told the BBC afterwards having broken clear of the pack at 19 miles.
The 36-year-old Mikitenko, unable to run in Beijing because of injury, produced a dominant display.
However, it was not until some six miles from the end that she finally saw off the challenge of Mara Yamauchi, Britain’s standard-bearer in the absence of injured world record holder Paula Radcliffe.
"I was always confident that I had it in my legs as everything in myself felt good and after 19 miles I saw no reason why I shouldn’t win," said Mikitenko, after a third win in her fourth ‘big city’ marathon.
Mikitenko’s two powerful surges late on proved too much for Yamauchi, who came in a personal best time of 2:23:12, having finished sixth in Beijing.
That left Yamauchi well clear of well clear of Russia’s Liliya Shobukova, who was third in 2:24:24.
Beijing champion Constantina Dita fell of the pace very early on while China’s Zhou Chunxiu, the Olympic bronze medallist and 2007 London champion, was dropped by the top two before the 17 mile-mark.