Romanchuk rockets to a first London title
New kid on the block Daniel Romanchuk swept clear of the opposition to win the men’s wheelchair title at the Virgin Money London Marathon today in 1:33:38 leaving two-time winner Marcel Hug in his wake.
David Weir was also blown away by the powerful young American and the Briton could only finish fifth, missing the podium on his 20th consecutive appearance.
At just 21, Romanchuk is a force to be reckoned with, and after winning Chicago, New York and Boston Marathon crowns in the last 12 months, the man nicknamed ‘Rocket Man’ this week added the London title to his belt, becoming world T54 marathon champion into the bargain in a race serving as the World Para Athletics Marathon Championships.
“I’m still in shock,” said the unassuming Romanchuk afterwards. “This past year has been incredible.
“I thank God for the opportunities and all the support I’ve received along the way from my family and coaches. I could not be here without them.”
From the start, 12 athletes were in a pack together, including Romanchuk, Hug, Japan’s Tomoki Suzuki and Weir going for his ninth win.
The break came just after Tower Bridge, helped by the new ‘Flying 400’ time trial sprint contest with a $30,000 prize pot and Abbott World Marathon Majors bonus points on offer. Romanchuk, Hug and Suzuki saw the opportunity, using the challenge to their advantage to break away and leaving Weir trailing with the rest.
Romanchuk clocked the fastest time of 45 seconds. “I climb much better than I descend,” he said. “I tried to take as much advantage I could on the climbs. I talked to my coaches a lot about this and this is how we planned for the race to go.”
Hug used all his experience and speed to stay close to the American with Suzuki on his tail. But there was no stopping Romanchuk today and as they turned into The Mall, he had daylight to spare
He took the tape four seconds ahead of Hug, an amazing feat in his third ever London Marathon after finishing 26th in his debut in 2017 and was third last year behind Weir and Hug.
At such a young age, Romanchuk is looking forward to a break before taking on the world again on the international stage.
“It’s my first world title and it’s really hard to describe the feeling, I didn’t plan a specific place or anything so this is incredible.”
As for Hug, the Swiss man said the Flying 400 section changed the race. “My goal was to win but it was a good performance and Daniel is difficult to beat,” he said. “The addition of the 400m flying sprint was a good addition and a game changer. It allowed us to break away from the pack.”
Suzuki finished 13 seconds back in third to take the world bronze medal ahead of Dai Yungiang from China with Weir fifth in 1.37.22, just outside the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic qualification places.
He was quick to acknowledge Romanchuk’s talent. “Everyone is beatable, but he’s frightening,” said Weir. “He has everything in his locker and has mastered all of it.
“If he stays injury free, I’m sure no-one can touch him. Nothing phases him. It will also take a lot to stop him on the track.
“I’m not making any excuses,” he added. “It was a tough day today and it didn’t go to plan, I didn’t seem to have a lot of energy. Everyone else was very strong and I was slower than last year.
“I still feel pride in wearing the kit. The London Marathon is still a great joy to take part in and my plan is still to target selection for Tokyo.”