LONDON - Olympic gold medallist Sammy Wanjiru overcame a spirited late challenge after a savage early pace to win the men's London marathon on Sunday in a course record 2hrs:5min:10sec.
Wanjiru, 22, broke the mark set by Kenyan teammate Martin Lel last year by five seconds after repulsing a determined victory bid from Ethiopia's Beijing bronze medallist Tsegaye Kebede.
Defending champion Irina Mikitenko retained the women's title with an assured victory over Briton Mara Yamauchi in 2:22:11.
Yamauchi recorded a personal best 2:23:12 to provide the enthusiastic crowds packing the streets of London with ample consolation for the absence through injury of world record holder Paula Radcliffe.
Wanjiru, the first Kenyan to win an Olympic marathon gold, stayed with the pacemakers as they took the field through the first half of the 42,195km race in a searing 61:min:35sec.
Wanjiru seized his moment to break the leading pack at 29km and the race then resolved into a battle between the three Olympic medallists.
Kebede trailed Wanjiru over the final kilometres with silver medallist and twice world champion Jaouad Gharib a place further back. The top five was completed by Emmanuel Mutai (Kenya) in fourth on 2:06:53 and Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa in 2:07:44
The Kenyan responded with one final surge to cross the line 10 seconds ahead of Kebede with Gharib holding on for third.
Wanjiru is now the seventh fastest man on the all-time list.
The women's race was soon reduced to a three-way battle between Mikitenko, Yamauchi and Chinese Olympic bronze medallist Zhou Chunxiu.
Zhou dropped off the pace at 27km and Mikitenko made her move 5km later. Russian Liliya Shobukhova took third place on her marathon debut. - Reuters