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2009 elite race winners. Irina MIkitenko and Sammy Wanjiru.

London winners target 2010

27 April 2009

Just a day after their thrilling triumphs in the 2009 London Marathon, Irina MIkitenko and Sammy Wanjiru have already set their sights on victory in 2010.

Mikitenko, who won the women’s race yesterday in 2:22:11, said she will return to London next year in a bid to become the first woman to win three London Marathons in a row since her fellow German Katrin Dorre secured a trio of victories between 1992 and 1994.

“I had my first marathon victory in London last year and now I have won a second here,” she said. “I think London must be a lucky city for me. I really like it.

“I want to come back and go for the triple. We’ll see what happens but you never know. I hope so.”

Wanjiru also said he’d love to return in 12 months time. After finishing second in 2008, the Olympic champion was more than satisfied with his victory yesterday, although he felt he’d left a bit of unfinished business out on the course.

The 22-year-old was aiming for Haile Gebrselassie’s seven-month old world record of 2:03:59 in Sunday’s race but after the punishing early pace, he had to be satisfied with a course record of 2:05:10.

“Last time I was second and yesterday I was the winner,” he said. “Now I have made a name for myself here in London, so maybe next time I can come back and get the record.

“In the last few miles yesterday I was trying really hard but by then my condition wasn’t good. The London course is not as easy as other courses because the last 5km is very hard.”

For the second year in a row Wanjiru had to push himself through a tough battle over the last three miles. In 2008 he lost out by nine seconds to his friend and training partner Martin Lel, and this year he was stretched to the limit by Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede who chased him all the way to the line, finishing just 10 seconds behind.

For Mikitenko it was a different story. The 36-year-old shrugged off the challenge of Britain’s Mara Yamauchi in the 20th mile and had the London roads to herself from then on as she strode towards her second win in two years.

“This victory actually means more to me than my first one,” she said. “I am happy that could win under pressure and there was quite a lot of pressure on me as the defending champion.

“I actually slept worse last night than the night before the race because I was still so excited about it.”

Mikitenko believes her London win has left her in even better shape to win the IAAF World Championships title in August.

“The World Championships are in Berlin so it means something very special to me to be running in my home country,” she said. “Of course, it means a lot of pressure for me too, but I have learned here that I can deal with pressure.

“I will now go back home to train hard because winning in Berlin is my biggest goal. It will come down to who prepares best and I know I will prepare well. Mara had home advantage here but I will have it in Berlin.”

As for Wanjiru, he has not yet decided whether he will bid to add the world title to his Olympic crown. “I don’t know whether I will run the World championships or go to the Berlin Marathon instead, or run in another place,” he said. “I will decide in June.”