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Ramaala ready to rock

Four-time Olympian Hendrick Ramaala will take to the streets of London on Sunday wearing bib No7 as he hopes to continue his fine record in this famous race.

Ramaala is, along with swimmer Ryk Neethling, the only South African to appear in four Olympics’, and his record in the London Marathon is an enviable one; in the last four years he has placed third (2005), third (2006, fifth (2007) and tenth (2008).

Martin Lil, the formidable Kenyan, is favourite to win for the fourth time in the last five years (he was second in 2006) and he will probably face his biggest threat in countryman Sammy Wanjiri. Others to keep an eye on include fellow Kenyans Felix Limo and Emmanuel Mutai, while Morocco’s Abderrahim Goumri and Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede should ensure it’s an all-African affair.

However, the experience of Ramaala should not be ruled out. Though his best time over the course is 2hr 6min 55sec (when third in 2006), he struggled home to tenth in 2:11:44 last year but judging by his preparations, looks to be in condition to go under 2:10 again. And should this be the case, then he should again run a strong race.

In the men’s wheelchair race, a strong elite field of 49 athletes will face the starter, including Paralympic hero Ernst van Dyk. The South African won a record eighth Boston Marathon last week but has included his willingness to race London, though he is not considered the favourite.

Wearing that tag is the winner of the last three years, England’s David Weir, who touched off the Australian Kurt Fearnley in the race last year and then went on to win four Paralympic medals over shorter distances in Beijing last year.

The race starts at 10am (SA time) on Sunday.