Olympic champion Jemima Sumgong is set to defend her London Marathon title in April ©Getty Images

Kenya's Olympic champion Jemima Sumgong will defend her Virgin Money London Marathon title on April 23 as she leads "one of the strongest women’s fields ever assembled for a major city marathon" according to organisers.

Sumgong sensationally recovered from a fall to capture the title in the English capital last year in a time of 2 hours 22min 58sec.

The 32-year-old then went on to make history in Rio de Janeiro as she became the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the marathon. 

Sumgong defeated Ethiopia’s reigning world champion Mare Dibaba at Rio 2016l to confirm her status as the best marathon runner of 2016.

"London is the marathon every runner wants to win," said Sumgong.

"I can’t wait to return to defend my title."

Dibaba, the bronze medallist at Rio 2016, will be one of Sumgong’s main rivals in April.

The 27-year-old, sixth in London last year, is joined by her namesake Tirunesh Dibaba, the triple Olympic gold medallist and five-time world track champion.

She finished third on her marathon debut in London three years ago.

Tirunesh Dibaba won the 5,000 and 10,000 metres titles at Beijing 2008 and added another 10,000m gold medal at London 2012.

Mary Keitany of Kenya will be aiming to become only the fourth woman to win the London Marathon three times after completing a hat-trick of New York City Marathon titles last November.

Keitany won her first London Marathon in 2011 and second in 2012 in a time of 2:18:37 but, after finishing runner-up in 2015, the African record holder could only place ninth last year after she was involved in the collision which cost her a place at Rio 2016.

"I love running in London," said Keitany.

"After the sickness I had before the race and the fall last year during the race, I want to show everyone what I can do.

"My goal is to win the London Marathon for the third time and to demonstrate to everybody that I could have won the Olympic Games last year if I had been selected."

Kenya's Mary Keitany will aim to win her third London Marathon title in April following victories in 2011 and 2012 ©Getty Images
Kenya's Mary Keitany will aim to win her third London Marathon title in April following victories in 2011 and 2012 ©Getty Images

Other female runners to win the London Marathon three times include Norway's Ingrid Kristiansen, who won it four times. 

Germany's Katrin Dörre-Heinig and Britain's Paula Radcliffe have also won the race three times. 

Florence Kiplagat, another Kenyan who won the 2016 Chicago Marathon, will aim to finally reach the top of the podium after she was third in London last year and second in 2014.

Last year’s Tokyo Marathon champion and 2015 International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships silver medallist Helah Kiprop of Kenya is also down to compete.

Kenya's Olympic 5,000 metres champion Vivian Cheruiyot is due to make her marathon debut at the age of 33.

Ethiopia's 2015 London Marathon champion Tigist Tufa, second last year, is also scheduled to compete.

Former European 10,000m champion Ana Dulce Felix ran her best time of 2:25:15 on the London course, when she was eighth in 2015.

The Portuguese international placed 16thin the marathon at Rio 2016. 

Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Lisa Weightman flies the flag for Australia, while Alyson Dixon will be favourite to win the British battle for World Championship places against compatriots Louise Damen, Charlotte Purdue and Susan Partridge.

"This is a stellar field and everyone who is anyone in women’s marathon running will be in London on April 23," said Hugh Brasher, the event director.

"We look forward to a fantastic race and the London crowds are certain to be out in force to cheer home the world’s greatest runners."

The entrants of the men's elite race were confirmed last week.

Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele, the triple Olympic champion and double world record holder on the track, is set to compete.

His compatriots, Olympic silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa and the 2016 Dubai and Hamburg Marathon champion Tesfaye Abera, will also run.

Stanley Biwott, winner of the 2015 New York City Marathon, leads the Kenyan challenge in the absence of Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge, who will not seek a third consecutive London title.