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Gebrselassie favourite

Gebrselassie favourite
By Reuters

20/04/2006 at 09:20Updated

Four-times world 10,000m champion Haile Gebrselassie is clear favourite for Sunday's London marathon after his great track rival Paul Tergat withdrew through injury.

Gebrselassie relegated the five times world cross country champion to second place in two Olympic and two world 10,000 finals before the 36-year-old Kenyan finally decided to swap the track for the road.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Gebrselassie discounted talk of a world record in Sunday's race and said he thought the event would be more tactical than fast.

"The marathon is not an easy thing, it's not like the 10,000 or 5,000 metres," he said. "The marathon is very special. "It will be a good race, believe me. It will be a very interesting race."

World record holder Tergat told reporters he had torn his lower calf muscle while training in Kenya last week after finishing fourth in March's Lisbon half-marathon in 59:42.

"I was focusing on London," he said. "I was in my best form."

By that stage Gebrselassie, whose last-gasp victory over Tergat at the 2000 Sydney Olympics was his last track gold, had also switched to the road with his third place in the 2002 London race.

The 33-year-old Ethiopian was thwarted by the wind last year when he attempted Tergat's world mark in Amsterdam, clocking a creditable 2:06:20 after running under record pace for most of the race.

He has made a highly impressive start to the year with a world record 58 minutes 55 seconds for the half-marathon in Phoenix in January followed by another world record of 1:11:37 over 25 km in the Netherlands last month.

Not surprisingly English bookmakers William Hill have made Gebrselassie the 2-1 favourite on Sunday followed by twice world gold medallist Jouad Gharib and Chicago champion Felix Limo who are each 9-1.

Italy's Olympic champion Stefano Baldini, 16-1 in the betting, said the race would be very tight.

"I think the pace will probably be too fast for me," he said.

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