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Bring on London: Defending champion faces Farah test at 2019 London Marathon



World record holder Eliud Kipchoge will defend his title at the London Marathon on April 28.

Kipchoge, the 2018 World Athlete of the Year, broke the world record in the marathon in Berlin last September, clocking 2:01:39.

The 34-year-old Kenyan won his third London marathon title last year, clocking 2:04:17. He is unbeaten in three appearances in London, having notched victories in 2015 and 2016 as well. He also set the course record of 2:03:05 in that 2016 race.

Kipchoge will face Mo Farah of Great Britain, who was previously announced. Farah set the European record over the distance in Chicago last October when he clocked 2:05:11 to collect his first major marathon victory. Earlier in the year, Farah finished third in London in 2:06:21, at the time a national record.

“I had a memorable 2018, winning the Virgin Money London Marathon and then setting a new world record at the BMW Berlin Marathon,” Kipchoge said. “I’m hoping that 2019 is just as good to me.”

Kipchoge also said he’s looking forward to another match-up against Farah.

“He is a great champion and proved in Chicago that he can win a major marathon so I relish the battle with him and also the many other great athletes that I’m sure will once again be on the start line in London.”

Those include Ethiopia’s 22-year-old rising marathon star Shura Kitata also returns after finishing runner-up to Kipchoge last year and placing second in the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon.

“There is no doubt that Eliud Kipchoge is the greatest marathon runner of all time,” said Hugh Brasher, Event Director of the London race.

“His world record at the BMW Berlin Marathon was a legendary sporting moment and one more win at the Virgin Money London Marathon would make him the most successful athlete in the history of the elite men’s race in our event’s illustrious history.

“Since Sir Mo Farah won the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October, everyone has been talking about another head-to-head between Mo and Eliud and we are absolutely thrilled that this showdown will happen at the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon.”

Meanwhile, a mixed shuttle hurdles race is one of two new mixed events introduced to the programme for this year’s IAAF World Relays in Yokohama, the IAAF has said.

The addition of a mixed 2x2x400 metres relay and mixed shuttle hurdles relay means there will be three men’s, three women’s and three mixed events at the meeting in over the weekend of May 11-12.

“The IAAF World Relays was designed to be fun for our athletes and fans so it’s the perfect place to try new formats,” IAAF President Sebastian Coe said in a statement.

“I’ve been championing innovation in our sport since I took the reins so it’s great to see the addition of a dynamic relay that will showcase our sprint hurdlers.”

The shuttle hurdles will feature two men and two women in each team. The men will run 110m hurdles in one direction and will then hand over to the first woman on the team, who will run in the opposite direction to hand over to the second man, and so on.

“I’m excited that the hurdles can be part of a relay,” said world 100m hurdles champion Sally Pearson.

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