Marcel Hug storms to victory in the TCS London Marathon elite men’s wheelchair race
Marcel Hug set a new course record as he stormed to victory in the TCS London Marathon men’s wheelchair race.
The Swiss star, who produced a fine finish to see off the USA’s Daniel Romanchuk, crossed the line in 1:24:38 to defend his title. But Hug was made to work hard for the win.
“It was a really tough race out there today, one of the toughest,” said Hug.
“Dan was so strong today and I did everything I could to break away. I tried to up my pace to make him tired, but he was just too strong. I think that was one of his best performances of all time.”
Hug and Romanchuk broke away from the rest of the field early on in the race after setting a strong pace right from the start.
The duo were two minutes in front of the chasing pack when they went through halfway in 39 minutes, 25 seconds.
But Hug – who won four gold medals at the Tokyo Paralympics last year – was still able to finish strongly to claim a record £29,300 in prize money.
“I was very happy with my sprint,” said Hug. “I have taken a lot of confidence since Tokyo and my new chair feels amazing to race in.”
“The prize fund is getting better and this means a lot to wheelchair athletes as well as myself. I think it is a strong encouragement for more wheelchair athletes to race.”
Hug had beaten American Romanchuk by almost four minutes in Berlin last weekend but this time around it was far closer.
Romanchuk kept right behind Hug until the home straight, where, after a clash of wheels, Hug moved clear to win by two seconds.
But Romanchuk was rightfully proud of his performance.
“I feel pretty good about my race,” he said. “The plan was just to stay in there and not let Marcel get too far ahead. I stayed in the slipstream, but I couldn’t hear anything Marcel was saying to me.
“My plan is to now go back home and talk to my coach before New York in a couple of weeks’ time.”
There was also a sprint finish to secure third place with David Weir, Tomoki Suzuki and Jetze Plat all battling hard for a place on the podium.
Plat’s decision to go wide ultimately enabled Weir and Suzuki to move clear.
And it was the legendary Brit who edged ahead, showing his trademark grit and determination to finish in a time of 1:30:41 in his 23rd consecutive London Marathon.
“I can't even remember the last mile, it was that tough,” said Weir, 43. “I couldn't give any more to be honest, that was it!”
“It just takes me so long to warm up, it doesn't matter how many different things I try before the race.”
The eight-time winner of the event first worked his way onto the podium 20 years ago. And he is proud to still be competing at such a high level, despite wishing he’d been able to get closer to Romanchuk.
“It’s an amazing achievement and I’m just happy to be on the podium,” said Weir. “I just wanted to be a bit closer to Daniel and Marcel – they’re in a different league!”