LONDON MARATHON Date and time: Sunday, 26 April from 0900 BST Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, with a choice of cameras on the red button and the BBC Sport website; Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live
By Matt Slater
Dita backs Radcliffe for 2012
Paula Radcliffe can win the Olympic marathon at London 2012 but only if she cuts back her training and rests more.
That is the advice of reigning Olympic champion Constantina Dita, who stunned the field in Beijing to win gold at 38, the same age Radcliffe will be in 2012.
Dita takes part in her eighth London Marathon on Sunday, but Radcliffe is missing with another injury.
"In my opinion, Paula does too much mileage and not enough recovery," the 39-year-old Romanian told BBC Sport.
"Last year I cut back on all the shorter races too - I only did a 10K and a four-mile race - before Beijing. I think Paula does too much.
"My advice would be to train less, do no more than two marathons a year and spend more time getting massages."
Radcliffe, however, is well known for her uncompromising 140-mile-plus training weeks.
Dita, who has reverted to her maiden name this year after spending most of her career as Tomescu-Dita, peaks at 120 miles a week but her typical training load is closer to the 100 miles a week most east African distance runners put in.
Radcliffe, the world record holder and 2007 world champion, was forced to pull out of this year's London Marathon last month when she broke a toe training in the US.
Paula will be running in front of her home crowd and that will give her more power - she has a great chance of winning in 2012
This was just the latest in a series of setbacks for the 35-year-old Englishwoman and she has since had surgery on a bunion on her right foot in an attempt to address her injury jinx.
A three-time winner in London, Radcliffe has been unable to race in the event since 2005 and has not run competitively since her superb win in New York last November. But Radcliffe's worst luck has been reserved for Olympic years.
Having narrowly missed medals on the track in 1996 and 2000, the Monaco-based star was forced to quit the 2004 Olympic marathon when an adverse reaction to anti-inflammatory drugs she was taking to combat a leg injury left her badly dehydrated.
And in 2008 she broke her left leg only four months before the Games. In a display of remarkable gutsiness, Radcliffe limped around the Beijing course to finish 23rd, nearly six minutes behind Dita.
The Romanian's victory that day transformed her reputation as the "nearly woman" of marathon running and vindicated an aggressive front-running style that has often in the past seen her build up big leads only to be reeled in the final kilometres.
She now comes to London, a race she has enjoyed three podium finishes in, as a global star.
The favourite for victory on Sunday, however, is another relative veteran, Germany's Irina Mikitenko. The 36-year-old also missed the Beijing Olympics but scored big wins in London and Berlin last year, the latter in the seventh quickest time ever.
But chasing the Kazakh-born Mikitenko hard will be Catherine Ndereba of Kenya and China's Zhou Chunxiu, the silver and bronze medallists in China last August.
Ndereba, a two-time world champion, is the second fastest woman of all-time and has enjoyed a few classic battles with Radcliffe.
But the Kenyan, also 36, said Radcliffe's absence is a blow for the rest of the field as her presence would have guaranteed a quick time.
Yamauchi is Britain's best hope of success on Sunday
British hopes will now be carried by Mara Yamauchi, who has emerged from Radcliffe's shadows in recent years to post a sequence of solid results in the biggest races, none more so than her impressive sixth place in Beijing.
"I hope I can inspire people by running well on Sunday," Yamauchi told BBC Sport.
"Because I came into marathon running late at 29. I haven't been the superstar Paula has been since she was a junior - I've worked my way up gradually.
"But I hope people can relate to that and think that they can realise their dreams too if they put the work in."
The Japanese-based Yamauchi, now 35, was only 22 seconds off a medal in Beijing and as a late bloomer cannot be discounted of springing a surprise in the marathon at London 2012 on what will be her 39th birthday.
But Britain's most likely source of medal glory will once again be Radcliffe and Dita is in no doubt that she can deliver.
"I've already talked to her a little bit about my experiences in Beijing and I'm sure we will talk more," said Dita, who trains in Colorado.
"But she will be running in front of her home crowd and that will give her more power. She has a great chance of winning in 2012."
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