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David Weir Keen To Win Wheelchair London Marathon

April 24, 2010

Top British wheelchair racer David Weir is hoping to make home advantage count in Sunday’s London Marathon.

Weir has avoided the travel problems suffered by his rivals, including last year’s winner Kurt Fearnley.

The Australian pulled out of the race because of the cloud of volcanic ash but managed to get a flight and arrived in London on Friday morning.

“I’m at an advantage because I haven’t had the problems or jet lag that others have had,” Weir told BBC Sport.

“London is a special race for me and last year it hurt me to lose to Kurt, but especially to have him take my course record from me

“But I had only done seven weeks training ahead of the race so to have been up there challenging at the end in a sprint finish was encouraging.

“This year I have a new racing chair and although it has taken me some time to get it to how I want it, and I’ve had to adjust the seat a lot, in the last two weeks it has felt right and I’ve now got the speed and endurance in my training.”

Fearnley will be hoping to put the problems of the last week to one side when he lines up on Sunday.

After being told on Tuesday afternoon that there was no way he would be getting to London, he admitted that he “relaxed a bit” that night only to wake up on Wednesday morning with a slight headache and the news that he was booked on a flight to London that night.

He is happy to renew acquaintances with the Briton but knows that the rest of the elite men’s wheelchair field have chances too.

“David is one of the toughest competitors I come up against and I know I will have to do well to beat him but it is far from being a two-man race,” he said.

“It’s certainly the toughest London Marathon field I’ve ever seen and one of the best outside the Paralympic Games so it is anyone’s race.”

We know each other inside out – our strengths and weaknesses
David Weir on London Marathon rival Kurt Fearnley

Of the rest of the field, Monday’s Boston Marathon champion Ernst van Dyk will be hoping to make it back-to-back marathon wins and claim his first London title with a strong challenge also expected from London debutant Marcel Hug, former winner Saul Mendoza from Mexico and Japanese pair Kota Hokinoue and Masazumi Soejima, who were third and fourth in Boston.

In the women’s race, Amanda McGrory of the United States is aiming to defend her title but Britain’s Shelly Woods, the 2007 champion, who finished sixth last year, will be hoping for a home success.

“This is my first marathon of the season but I’ve trained in Australia and Portugal over the winter and that has gone well,” said Blackpool athlete Woods.

“I’m excited about the race and although London isn’t a course that particularly suits me, I think that I will do better than last year.”

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