Keflezighi warms up with London
Meb Keflezighi sees the London marathon as a great warm up for Beijing.
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2007 20:06 GMT

Meb Keflezighi: Looking for a good hit out in London [GALLO/GETTY]

Meb Keflezighi is running at the London Marathon but sees it as merely a prelude to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Eritrean-born American, who won the silver medal at the 2004 Athens Games, will race Sunday against a field that includes some of the top names in distance running, and is seen as a great warm up to the Olympics.
"The big picture is Beijing," Keflezighi said.

"Go for the gold."

But first, there is the 42.2-kilometre race and the streets of London.

The field is deep with former champions Martin Lel, Felix Limo and Khalid Khannouchi racing alongside world record holder Paul Tergat, Olympic champion Stefano Baldini and New York City Marathon winner Marilson Gomes dos Santos, the field is deep.

The calculations for a winner don't even include Haile Gebrselassie, a two-time Olympic and four-time world 10,000-meter champion who finished ninth in London last year.

"You're trying to get the best out of yourself. To do that, you race
against the best," Keflezighi said.

"This (field) is deeper than the Olympics."

Keflezighi's main concern Sunday will be his left foot injury, a bad blister he suffered in March after winning a 15-kilometer race in Florida which required him to take a two-week break from running.

"I felt it a little today," Keflezighi said.

"I was a little on my toes."

Khannouchi, who was born in Morocco but now races as an American, has set two marathon world records, but he too has had foot injuries and said he was still cautious with his training.

"I'm ready to compete," said Khannouchi, who set his second world record in London in 2002.

"The priority is to win, and if it comes with a good time, it's a great bonus."

Tergat holds the men's record at 2 hours, 4 minutes, 55 seconds, and the recent warm weather in London could keep the field from setting a new one.

"It will be a factor," Khannouchi said.

"I try not to think about it because we'll all have the same weather."

Last year, Limo held off Lel by two seconds to win the London race, but
back problems have kept him from racing for the last seven months.

"When I started serious training I still had that fear (of re-injuring my
back)," Limo said.

"I did a lot of exercise to strengthen the back."

The field for the women's race will include world cross-country champion
Lornah Kiplagat, Berhane Adere, Constantina Tomescu-Dita, Geta Wami and Chunxiu Zhou.

Last year, Deena Kastor won the women's race. She finished fifth on Monday in the Boston Marathon.

Paula Radcliffe, a three-time London champion who set the world record of 2:15:25 at the 2003 race, will not be running this year after the birth of her daughter overtook any preparations.

The London Marathon is also worth points in the World Marathon Majors

The Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, New York, World Championships and Olympic Marathons are part of the two-year series that will award $500,000 to the men's and women's champions.

Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.