Madison de Rozario overcomes her rivals to claim the 2023 TCS London Marathon women’s wheelchair title
De Rozario pipped three-time champion Manuela Schär to the title, finishing just one second clear of her closest rival in a time of one hour, 38 minutes and 51 seconds.
The 29-year-old Australian was overjoyed with her second success in London, having also won the title back in 2018.
She said: “I am delighted. It was an amazing race with one of the strongest fields I’ve ever been in. I found it intimidating to be up against such incredible athletes. The final sprint was fantastic.”
De Rozario was able to stay in front after being the first to make a surge for the Finish Line on The Mall.
She said: “I saw Manuela’s wheel coming up alongside me, but I just kept focused. The race is so important to me and to be alongside people I admire so much is amazing.”
De Rozario’s success was made even sweeter as she had to drop out on the eve of last year’s London Marathon due to illness.
She said: “Going out last year was one of the most devastating things I’ve had to do in my career and it’s tricky. To have Manuela in second today, when she also had to drop out last year, after making it to the warm-up, was really nice.”
De Rozario and Schär pulled away from defending champion Catherine Debrunner (SUI) and USA’s Susannah Scaroni after all four racers came into The Mall still in contention for glory.
Switzerland’s Schär was just edged out by de Rozario but remained proud of her part in an enthralling contest.
The 38-year-old said: “It was a really exciting race. I’m really proud to be part of an improving and exciting group of female racers. The first 10k was hard, but then I started to feel better. I guess that’s a sign of my age.”
But that experience also enabled Schär to alter her original tactics.
“I had a race planned but I always find that in these conditions that it makes sense to constantly keep adapting to how the rest of the racers are responding,” said Schär.
“I’ll take a small break now and be back on the track training for the summer.”
Fellow Swiss star Debrunner finished third in 1:38:54 and worked hard to keep up with those alongside her in the wet weather.
She said: “The conditions were actually quite okay.I had a good set up for the rain but it was really tough. The race was from the beginning really, really fast and I really struggled to keep the pace with the first ladies.”
However, Debrunner believes the fast times are fantastic for the development of wheelchair marathon racing.
She said: “It’s amazing that we have such a fast group at such a high level,” said Debrunner. I really enjoy it and I’m really proud that I achieved top three. The crowd is amazing and they really help you during the last six kilometres to make it to the end. It’s the best atmosphere I’ve ever had.”
Scaroni, who was also right up with the top three for virtually all of the race, finished fourth while Eden Rainbow-Cooper was the first Brit to finish.
Rainbow-Cooper was third in 2022 but the 21-year-old finished seventh this time around in a time of 1:47:43 after producing another gutsy performance.