Hug headlines strong wheelchair racing field for Oita Marathon
Saturday, 27 October 2012
October 27 - Switzerland's Marcel Hug, who claimed two silver medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, headlines a strong wheelchair racing field for the Oita Marathon in Japan as he looks to claim his third consecutive win in the race.
Hug, who is dubbed the "Swiss Silver Bullet" due to the colour of his racing helmet, was one of the favourites for the marathon T54 Paralympic crown at London 2012 but was forced to settle for silver behind British rival Dave Weir, who also relegated Hug into second in the 800 metres T54 final at the Games.
But the Swiss will be favourite for a third crown in Oita City when the event takes place tomorrow despite a field of 306 racers from 11 countries, the majority of whom were in London.
Leading the challenge to Hug is likely to be his Swiss compatriot Heinz Frei, who has won a record 14 times dating back to 1991.
Frei finished in 11th place in the marathon T54 at London 2012 and sixth at last year's Oita Marathon.
Meanwhile, local fans will have plenty of talent to cheer as Japanese racers Higuchi Masayuki and Soejima Masazumi, who finished second and third respectively last year, will be back again.
In the marathon T54 on the women's side, America's Amanda McGrory, who just missed out on a medal at London 2012 after finishing fourth, will try to defend her Oita title from last year.
But she will face stiff competition from Canada's Diane Roy and Japan's top female racer Tsuchida Wakako, who took fifth in London.
The men's T33/52 class will be highlighted by Spain's defending champion Santiago Sanz and Japan's world-record holder Ueyonabaru Hirokazu, while Japanese racer Inoue Satoshi will be one to watch in the men's T51 class.
Many of the racers will be using the race as preparation for the New York Marathon on November 4, ahead of the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships next year in Lyon, France.