LONDON, Apr 25 – Samuel Wanjiru says he is ready to live up to his billing as favourite to snatch the title from defending champion Martin Lel in Sunday's London Marathon and believes a record time could be in the offing.Olympic gold medallist Wanjiru and fellow Kenyan Lel, who has won the race three times, will go head to head but a 20-plus elite field also includes reigning world champion Luke Kibet, who will be bursting to defy his compatriots.
Lel set a new course record 12 months ago in winning in 2 hr 5 min 15sec, 9sec clear of Wanjiru with Morocco’s Abderrahim Goumri third in 2:05:30.
The legendary Haile Gebrselassie holds the marathon world mark of 2:04.26 set in Berlin two years ago – but Wanjiru says he is eying a new record.
"Here on Sunday if the pace is very good, I will try to break the world record," said the 22-year-old.
Further contenders are Morocco’s Jaouad Gharib and rising Ethiopian hope Tsegaye Kebede – the Olympic silver and bronze medallists.
Kebede says he will be going into the unknown on Sunday.
"This is my first time in London so I don’t know the course or what to expect from the weather. But I have done some good training in Ethiopia," he told reporters.
In the women’s race, defending champion Irina Mikitenko of Germany, Gete Wami, Romanian Olympic champion Constantina Dita, Catherine Ndereba and Zhou Chunxiu will be the top hopefuls.
Wami is ready to step up to the plate after finishing second and third in her last two appearances.
Last year she fell at the 30km mark as Kazakh-born Mikitenko took the tape in 2:24:14.
World record holder Paula Radcliffe of Britain is sidelined through injury.
Wami, like Radcliffe a veteran at 34, says she will be going all out for victory – particularly in the absence of her 36-year-old British rival.
"Paula is so much better than any of us and would have been expected to win and I hope she quickly recovers from her injury.
"Without her the race will be run differently. It will be much more open and there are many other strong runners who can win it."