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Thursday, 4 April, 2002, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
Steinle seeking London glory
Mark Steinle during his training in La Manga, Spain
Steinle: in the form of his life
By BBC Sport Online's Tom Fordyce

On a sunny spring morning in London's Battersea Park, Mark Steinle is in optimistic mood.

Britain's number one marathon runner has just ten days to wait until the biggest day of his career so far, and he is relishing the challenge.

"The London Marathon for me is the focal point of my season," he told BBC Sport Online at the launch of his sponsor adidas' new ał shoe.

  Marathon man
Age: 27
Coach: Alan Storey
Personal best: 2:10:46
Best London finish: 6th, 2001

"I feel in excellent shape. The winter went very well and I've had no problems with injuries at all.

"Last year was difficult because I had to do much more of my running on the roads, because foot and mouth disease meant a lot of trails were closed.

"That makes it a lot tougher on your body. But I'm fine now and things are looking good."

Steinle, Britain's best finisher with sixth place in last year's London Marathon, ran an impressive 1hr 3 mins 2 secs to win the Ciudad de Murcia half marathon last month.

Mark Steinle trains in London prior to the London Marathon
Steinle has enjoyed an excellent build up to London
It has put him in confident mood for a race where he has historically always run well.

Two years ago he was the first Briton home, although many commentators had trouble working out who he was.

Just two months previously he had trailed home a dismal 64th in the national cross country championships - and his finish within a few places of the world's best came as a shock to all but the athlete and his coach Alan Storey.

"Time-wise I think I can go under two hours ten minutes this year," reckons Steinle, and those who saw his run in Murcia would not disagree.

Greatest distance runner

The 2002 London Marathon boasts one of the best elite fields ever assembled.

In addition to last year's winner, Abdelkader El Mouaziz, there is world record holder Khalid Khannouchi and three-time winner Antonio Pinto.

But the names on everyone's lips are marathon debutants Haile Gebrselassie and Paula Radcliffe.

Gebrselassie, the greatest distance runner of all time, comes to the capital on the back of a fine win at the Lisbon half marathon, in an Ethiopian national record time of 59 mins 40 secs.


Paula will be a success, there's no doubt about it
Mark Steinle
His compatriot Million Wolde, Olympic champion over 5000m, has said he is in the best shape of his life.

But Steinle is not predicting a Gebrselassie triumph on the Mall next Sunday.

"There is a massive difference between running 10,000m and doing the marathon," he says.

"You can't just assume that because you're a wonderful 10K runner that you can step up without any problems.

Mark Steinle training in La Manga, Spain
Steinle does not see himself peaking for another few years
"Gebrselassie's running style may also give him problems. It will be the first time he has run over cobbles and over the London course, and it takes some getting used to."

Radcliffe's marathon bow is, if anything, more eagerly anticipated by the home crowd.

So often the bridesmaid on the track that she might as well run with a bunch of flowers in her hand, Radcliffe's attritional style is well suited to the demands of 26.2 miles.

"Paula will be a success, there's no doubt about it," says Steinle.

"She's so hard-working and determined, on top of her natural talent, that she will finish right up there.

"I'm not sure if she will win London this year. It's tough winning your first marathon. But long-term I'm sure it will happen."

BBC Sport Online's guide to the London Marathon

In-depth coverage

Winners in focus

Marathon guides

Photo Gallery

Marathon sportstalk

Official website
See also:

20 Mar 02 | Athletics
17 Mar 02 | Athletics
20 Jul 02 | London Marathon
Links to more Athletics stories are at the foot of the page.


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