Paula Radcliffe wins the New York marathon
World women's record holder Paula Radcliffe will race the London Marathon in April after missing the last two editions because of injury and the birth of her daughter.

The 34-year-old Radcliffe, who has set the women-only and mixed race world records on the London course, will run the April 15 road race seeking to become just the second woman to win it four times.

Norway's Ingrid Kristiansen won four times between 1984-88.

"I love running in front of my home crowd and I know that winning a fourth time will give me just the boost I need before the Olympic Games in August,'' Radcliffe said.

"The London field is always competitive but that's what I need to be at my best in Beijing.''

Radcliffe will be up against Ethiopia's Gete Wami, who she edged by 23 seconds to win the New York Marathon in November.

Wami finished second in her London Marathon debut last year, behind China's Zhou Chunxiu.

The 33-year-old won the Berlin marathon last year to become the first women's world majors champion.

Radcliffe, who won the London Marathon in 2002, '03 and '05, returned to competition in September, seven months after giving birth to her daughter Isla.

Her return was delayed by an eight-week layoff in May resulting from a stress fracture in the bone at the base of the spine sustained during childbirth, but she won her first marathon in more than two years against a deep women's field in New York.

Radcliffe, whose daughter Isla celebrates her first birthday on Thursday, has been training at altitude in South Africa in preparation for London and Beijing.

She pulled out of her only previous Olympic marathon in Athens 3-1/2 years ago with a stomach complaint before bouncing back to win the New York marathon in the same year.

In 2005 she recorded her third win in the London marathon and went on to claim her only global title with victory at the Helsinki world championships.

In London, she will also face Ethiopian record holder Berhane Adere, last year's third-place finisher Constantina Tomescu-Dita of Romania, and 2003 Chicago and Boston Marathon winner Svetlana Zakharova of Russia.

"We are delighted to have Paula back in London and pleased that she has decided to race here again against such a strong field," said race director David Bedford.

"No doubt all eyes will be on Paula as she goes for her fourth victory, but the women's race will be as tough as ever and Gete will have something to prove after losing to Paula in New York."

Source: Agencies