Mutai in determined mood
Emmanuel Mutai is determined that not even being laid low by typhoid will prevent him from defending his London Marathon title on Sunday.
The 27-year-old Kenyan, who set a course record in winning in the capital last year, was forced to miss some training after being struck down by the fever a month ago.
But with places on the Kenya Olympic team up for grabs - Mutai, world record holder Patrick Makau and world champion Abel Kirui are on a provisional list of six athletes battling for the three places on the team at the Games - Mutai knows a good showing is more important now than ever.
"For me this will definitely be a tougher competition than last year because the field is so strong," said Mutai, who clocked two hours four minutes 40 seconds last time.
"Everyone has run a good time so I will have to perform at my best.
"I had a fever a few weeks ago and was under medication. But I am feeling better now and my recovery has been good. I will have to try my best."
Kenyan selectors will name their final three for the Olympics at the end of the month and that is firmly in Mutai's mind.
"The selection is challenging, but I think if I can finish in the top three here I will qualify," he said.
"The extra pressure is there because of the Olympic selection, but I've been concentrating on running well in London. What comes after London, I will think about then."
Mutai's compatriot Mary Keitany, one of Paula Radcliffe's rivals for an Olympic marathon medal this summer, wants to lay down a marker ahead of the Games by defending her title in the women's race.
The 30-year-old claimed a runaway victory last year, with her time of two hours 19 minutes 19 seconds making her the second-fastest woman over the course.
Only world record holder Radcliffe has gone quicker, in 2003 and 2005, but she will not be in the field this weekend with her Olympic selection already secure.
The 38-year-old Briton's Olympic preparations suffered a setback last weekend when she recorded her slowest half-marathon time in Vienna, but Keitany wants to show she is in far better form.
"I'm in the same shape as last year and I hope to defend my title and win despite the field being so competitive," she said.
"It will be very hard because of the strong athletes. Almost every runner has a good time, and many have run around 2hrs 20mins, but I am determined to defend my title."
She admits, though, she still needs to improve tactically after she was made to pay for a blistering opening, blowing a two-minute lead to finish third at the New York Marathon last November.
"Sometimes your body can cheat you and tell you that you are OK when you fail to understand your body is having problems," she said.
"But I don't fear the marathon. I think of myself as a marathon runner now and I also think I have to better understand tactics, to know the tactics of running and handling a race."
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