The British record holder will be up against three former London champions, including the 54-year-old Frei, a London winner three times in the late 1990s,
David Weir will defend his Virgin London Marathon title on Sunday 22 April against the strongest field ever assembled as he seeks to match the six London Marathons won by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson on his 12th consecutive appearance.
“It’s gives me a real boost to know I can equal Tanni’s record this year,” said Weir, who last year became the first man to win five London Wheelchair Marathons. “Tanni is such a fantastic ambassador for the sport so to match one her achievements will be fabulous.
“I love the London Marathon. I haven’t missed one for 12 years and I wouldn’t miss this one for the world,” he added. Weir is certainly in form, having broken the world half marathon record in Lisbon just a month ago.
In London last year he won a thrilling sprint finish beating Switzerland’s Heinz Frei by two seconds, and the Briton will face the veteran world record holder again when 17 of the world’s elite men takes to the start line just four months before the 2012 Paralympic Games.
The British record holder will be up against three former London champions, including the 54-year-old Frei, a London winner three times in the late 1990s, the 2010 winner, Josh Cassidy of Canada, who was fifth last year, and Frenchman Denis Lemeunier, the 2001 champion, racing in London for the 11th time.
However, Weir’s sternest challenge could come from the two fastest men in the field – South African Ernst van Dyk who has won the prestigious Boston Marathon a record nine times, and the in-form Japanese racer, Masazumi Soejima, who won marathons in Tokyo, Boston and New York last year, and clocked the world’s leading time of 1 hour 18 minutes 50 seconds.
The field also includes Marcel Hug of Switzerland, who was second in 2010, and Poland’s Tomasz Hamerlak, the 2011 bronze medallist.
“I know I’m the man to beat in London but whoever is there on the day that’s fine by me,” said Weir, who became a father for the second time last August. “Training’s been going really well and I feel in good shape.”
Weir will appear at a press conference along with a number of the London Marathon’s elite wheelchair racers at the Tower Hotel, London, on Friday 20 April.
Bib no Name Country PB
21 David Weir GBR 1:27:46*
22 Ernst van Dyk RSA 1:18:27
23 Masazumi Soejima JPN 1:18:50
24 Heinz Frei SUI 1:20:14
25 Marcel Hug SUI 1:21:23
26 Kota Hokinoue JPN 1:22:00
27 Josh Cassidy CAN 1:22:01*
28 Choke Yasuoka JPN 1:22:17
29 Rafael Botello Jimenez ESP 1:22:18*
30 Denis Lemeunier FRA 1:22:31
31 Hiroyuki Yamamoto JPN 1:23:16
32 Roger Puigbo Verdaguer ESP 1:23:22
33 Jordi Jimenez ESP 1:23:26
34 Krige Schabort USA 1:24:22
35 Adam Bleakney USA 1:26:03
36 Tomasz Hamerlak POL 1:27:18
37 Joshua George USA 1:28:22
Draft Mistral users*
Â Virgin London Marathon
PictureÂ Â©Victah Sailer