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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Sean Ingle

Olympic champion Sifan Hassan joins ‘greatest ever’ London Marathon lineup

Sifan Hassan will run the London Marathon in 2023
Sifan Hassan, the Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion, will run the London Marathon despite never having competed at a distance greater than 21 miles Photograph: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile/Getty Images

This year’s London Marathon will have the greatest field ever assembled for a women’s distance race, organisers have said, after the reigning Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion, Sifan Hassan, announced she would be making her debut over 26.2 miles against a stellar list of rivals.

Hassan, who holds world records at the mile, 5,000m (road) and one hour as well as multiple world and European titles, said she is taking a “step into the unknown” given she has never run more than 21 miles and intends to run on the track this summer.

But her task could hardly be tougher in London, given that the field includes three other world record-holders – Brigid Kosgei at the marathon, the defending champion, Yalemzerf Yehualaw, over 10,000m on the road, and Genzebe Dibaba over 1500m.

For good measure, the Olympic marathon champion, Peres Jepchirchir, and the 2022 Berlin marathon winner, Tigist Assefa, the fifth-fastest woman in history, are also due to compete, along with Britain’s Eilish McColgan.

However, Hassan said she welcomed the challenge that lay ahead. “I am considering my plans for next year’s Paris Olympics with both the track and marathon options for me,” the Ethiopia-born runner said. “Before I can make a final decision, I need to test myself over the marathon distance and I believe the best place for me to do that is in London with the best female marathon athletes around me.

“Stepping up to the marathon distance has always been in my plans and it doesn’t mean that I will be retiring from the track,” she said. “It will be a step into the unknown in many ways for me but I’m looking forward to it.”

The London Marathon event director, Hugh Brasher, said he could not wait for the race on 23 April: “This is quite simply the greatest women’s field ever assembled for a marathon – arguably the greatest field ever assembled for a women’s distance race.

“We have two reigning Olympic champions, three world record-holders and multiple national record holders, in addition to an incredibly strong British contingent led by Eilish McColgan.”

The lineup for the men’s race also looks immensely strong with four of the five fastest men in history in the field. They include the Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele along with the Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum, who ran the 2022 Valencia marathon in 2hr 01min 53sec, making him the fastest debutant in history.

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