Four golds up for grabs in marathon to close the Games

Three men's events and one women's event close the last day of athletics competition in the London 2012 Paralympic Games. 09 Sep 2012
Kurt Fearnley

Kurt Fearnley has become known around the world as one of the top long-distance wheelchair racers on the track.

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The line-up in the men’s marathon T46 includes 11 athletes, with the world and Paralympic champion, Mario Santillan Hernandez, the man to beat.

The London 2012 Paralympic Games’ athletics events finish in dramatic fashion on Sunday (9 September) morning with four marathon races, all starting at The Mall.

World and Paralympic champion Kurt Fearnley has predicted that the winner of the T54 wheelchair marathon at the London 2012 Paralympic Games is also likely to medal in the shorter distances too.

According to the Australian, who is aiming to win his third consecutive Paralympic marathon gold with victory London, the 42.195km course features a number of turns that will suit racers used to short sprints. This could be good news for his main rivals such as Great Britain’s David Weir, who has already claimed three Paralympic gold medals in London in the 800m, 1,500m, 5,000m, and Switzerland’s Marcel Hug, the world record holder in the same three track events.

Speaking before the Games, Fearnley said: “The London 2012 marathon course is not your traditional marathon route. It’s going to be hard work as it’s a lap course and I think there will be almost a dozen or more turns in one single lap.”

The oldest competitor in the race is Heinz Frei, a marathon veteran and holder of the world record since 1999. The 54-year-old, who won World Championship silver in the marathon last year, has already won Paralympic road cycling gold in the men’s individual H2 time trial at these Games.

Watch out too for Canada’s Josh Cassidy and Masazumi Soejima of Japan, who both have incredibly quick personal best times in the marathon T54.

There is no shortage of talent in the women’s marathon T54 either, with track stars Tatyana McFadden and Switzerland’s Edith Wolf amongst a talented group also racing through the streets of London on 9 September. The world record holder and world ranked number one Wakako Tsuchida of Japan is also in action, as is the current number two in the world, Diane Roy. Britain’s Shelly Woods, winner of the London Marathon in April 2012, will be hoping the home crowds spur her on to success.

In the men’s marathon T12, Alberto Suarez Laso goes into the race as the current world number one. The Spaniard won World Championship T12 gold in New Zealand last year, and he also holds the world record for the event, which he set in Italy last October, clocking 2:25:01.

Watch out too for the silver and bronze medallists in Beijing, Elkin Alonso Serna Moreno and Ildar Pomykalov. And the marathon T11 world champion Cristian Valenzuela will also be out to make his mark after an impressive win in the men’s 5,000m T11 on Friday (7 September).

The line-up in the men’s marathon T46 includes 11 athletes, with the world and Paralympic champion, Mario Santillan Hernandez, the man to beat. The 31-year-old Mexican set a new world and Paralympic record when he took victory in Beijing 2008, clocking 2:27:04, but he faces tough competition in London. Abderrahman Ait Khamouch leads the world rankings having clocked 2:25:43 in 2012, whilst Tito Sena and Walter Endrizzi, who won Paraylmpic silver and bronze respectively in 2008, will be hoping to do even better this time around.

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