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London Olympics Preview: Marathon and Race Walk

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London Olympics Preview: Marathon and Race Walk

Jared Tallent won two race walk medals at the 2008 Olympics.

Stu Forster/Getty Images

Men's Marathon:

Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich won the London Marathon in April. He’ll try to win another marathon on Aug. 12, in the traditional final event of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. He’ll likely be challenged by 2011 World champion Abel Kirui and fellow Kenyan Emmanuel Mutai, as well as Ethiopians Ayele Abshero, Dino Sefir and Getu Feleke.

Women's Marathon:

Like her fellow Kenyan Kipsang Kiprotich, Mary Keitany hopes for déjà vu in London after she won that city’s marathon in April, in a world-leading 2:18:37. Other major marathon winners who’ll compete in London include Tiki Gelana, who won this year’s Rotterdam marathon, and fellow Ethiopian Aselefech Mergia, who triumphed in Dubai. Last year’s World champion, Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat, was second in April’s London Marathon. Another Kenyan, Daegu runner-up Priscah Jeptoo, placed third in the earlier London event. Both should be prime contenders in the Olympic marathon, along with Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba. Shalane Flanagan, a relative marathon newcomer,represents the U.S. hopes, while the London fans will cheer Great Britain's Paula Radcliffe.

Men's 20-Kilometer Race Walk:

The Olympic race walkers begin competition on Aug. 4. Leading contenders in the men’s 20-kilometer event include defending 50K gold medalist Alex Schwazer of Italy, who posted a world-leading time of 1:17:30 in Lugano. China’s Wang Zhen won two of the year’s biggest events, in Taicang and Saransk, while Russia’s Andrey Ruzavin was the winner in Sochi. Other contenders should include 2008 bronze medalist Jared Tallent of Australia, China’s Ding Chen, Yohann Diniz of France and Russia’s Sergey Morozov.

Women's 20-Kilometer Race Walk:

The lone women’s race walking event, the 20K, may feature a China-Russia battle to the finish. Russia’s Elena Lashmanova won the Race Walking Cup in Saransk, ahead of countrywoman (and 2008 Olympic gold medalist) Olga Kaniskina, and both should be among the contenders in London, along with the third Russian, Anisya Kirdyapkina. China is well-represented by Liu Hong, who won the Taicang race in 1:25:46, plus Taicang runner-up Lu Xiuzhi. Spain’s Maria Jose Poves, who won in Pontevedra and was third in Saransk, should also be in the mix.

Men's 50-Kilometer Race Walk:

Schwazer will try to defend his title in the Olympics’ longest event, the 50-kilometer race walk. He won at that distance at Dudince earlier this year, while Russia’s Sergey Kirdyapkin won the IAAF Race Walking Cup title in Saransk in a world-leading 3:38:08 in May. Others likely to battle for podium spots include Tallent, the Beijing runner-up, plus Russia’s Igor Erokhin and Yury Andronov, and Yuki Yamazaki of Japan.

Read more 2012 Olympic track and field previews.

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