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Gashaw Melese, Leila Amman start favourites

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TOP CONTENDERS: Gashaw Melese (left) and Leila Amman of Ethiopia pose after the press conference in Mumbai.
TOP CONTENDERS: Gashaw Melese (left) and Leila Amman of Ethiopia pose after the press conference in Mumbai.

Special Correspondent

MUMBAI: Language became a barrier for Ethiopian marathoners Gashaw Melese and Leila Amman at the media briefing, both elite athletes among the favourites for the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2007 in the men's and women's categories respectively.

Timing clocked this year by the duo prove that course or weather will not be a barrier, said Ian Ladbrooke, Elite Athlete co-coordinator, at the Hilton Towers on Thursday.

In top shape

They are in top shape and trained for three months for this.

Melese is credited with a winning time of 2:08:03 at the Paris Marathon in 2006, apart from below two hours, 10 minutes performances over the last three years. He finished fifth last year at Mumbai, clocking 2:14:19 and has run 14 marathons in a career starting 2001 with a third-place finish at home in the Addis Abeba Marathon 2001 (2:21:40).

Leila's previous marathon run was the 2006 Amsterdam Marathon, clocking 2:29:32 for a third place finish and has always ended up in top 10 since 2001.

The lithe Ethiopian, making her third appearance in Mumbai, finished in the third position last year after clocking an impressive 2:36.17. Her career best is 2:27:54 at 2004 Berlin marathon.

Ladbrooke, speaking about probable timings this Sunday, said: "In the men's field we have at least 10 runners who have clocked sub 2:10 times. The runners from the Greatest Race on Earth (GROE) should make the race more competitive," he said.

The Kenyans and Tanzanians are expected to arrive on Friday, alongwith former women's world record holder Tegla Loroupe.

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