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Wheelchair Champion Fearnley Forced To Miss London Marathon By Volcano Travel Chaos

April 21, 2010

Defending London Marathon wheelchair race champion Kurt Fearnley has been forced to pull out of this year’s race because of travel problems.

The 28-year-old Australian’s plans were dashed by the volcanic ash cloud which stopped UK air traffic for six days.

“I’ve worked really hard to be ready for this race and can’t believe it’s not going to happen,” he said.

“The organisers have done everything they can to get me there but it’s just not possible.”

Fearnley, also the Paralympic marathon champion, pipped Britain’s David Weir in a sprint finish 12 months ago to win the London crown for the first time.

His fellow Australian Christie Dawes, who was fifth last year, has been forced to pull out of the women’s race for the same reason.

Race director Dave Bedford said: “We are very disappointed to lose our reigning champion.

“Kurt has raced here for the three years and we were looking forward to welcoming him back as champion and course record holder.

“Unfortunately, circumstances have conspired against us this time.

“However, despite losing Kurt and Christie both the men’s and women’s wheelchair fields remain top quality and we fully expect two thrilling races on Sunday.”

Fearnley’s absence leaves five-time champion Weir as favourite to win his home race. However, he will still face a tough challenge from South African Ernst van Dyk, who won his ninth Boston marathon title on Monday.

Van Dyk will be travelling from Boston to London via Spain along with a number of other elite wheelchair competitors, including Wakako Tsuchida, the Japanese athlete who won the women’s race in Boston for the fourth consecutive year and Amanda McGrory, the defending London champion.

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