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Elite men’s race preview

2022 TCS London Marathon elite men’s race preview

Defending champion Sisay Lemma (ETH) returns to hold onto a title he won in unique circumstances in 2021. After winning the biggest race of his life at last year’s London Marathon, Lemma was unable to celebrate in the traditional manner as he had been in close contact with another athlete who had tested positive for Covid-19. As a result, the 31-year-old had to be isolated after a win he described as ‘a dream come true’.

Lemma has raced just once since last year’s London Marathon win, at the 2022 Boston Marathon. He did not finish the race, so his form is unknown coming into this year’s event where his fellow Ethiopians are likely to provide the toughest opposition.

Heading that Ethiopian charge will be Kenenisa Bekele, the second fastest marathoner of all time and one of the greatest distance runners in history. Now aged 40, Bekele does not look like he will replicate the form which saw him run 2:01:41 to win the 2019 Berlin Marathon in recent years. However, his illustrious CV – which includes three Olympic and five World Championships gold medals on the track – means he can never be overlooked.

Also in the field is the third fastest marathon runner of all time, Birhanu Legese (ETH), who is a two-time Tokyo Marathon champion and finished fifth at last year’s London Marathon.

One man looking to break the Ethiopian dominance is Belgium’s Bashir Abdi, who won a bronze medal at last year’s Olympic Games and followed that up with another bronze medal at this summer’s World Championships in Oregon.

All eyes domestically will be on Abdi’s training partner Sir Mo Farah, who returns to the London Marathon for the first time since 2019. The British marathon record holder and multiple Olympic and world champion on the track has a best-placed finish of third at the London Marathon from 2018. Although an injury meant he failed to make the Tokyo Olympic Games, Farah showed signs of a return to form when he won The Big Half in September against a strong British field.

Other leading Brits in the field include Chris Thompson and Phil Sesemann, who was the first British athlete home at last year’s event.