By Mike Rowbottom

sMarch 14 - Tirunesh Dibaba has pulled out of the 2013 Virgin London Marathon with a shin injury.

The Ethiopian triple Olympic track champion was due to make her debut over 26.2 miles in London on April 21 but has been forced to postpone her move up to the marathon because a previous problem with her lower leg re-emerged during training.

She said: "I have been in training for the London Marathon, but the increase in mileage has caused a flare up of my previous lower leg injury.

"As a result, I won't be able to compete in this year's London Marathon but I look forward to making my marathon debut there next year."

Dibaba retained her Olympic 10,000 metres title at London 2012 last summer and added a bronze in the 5,000m after winning both events at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

She has also earned four gold medals at World Championships and five World Cross Country titles.

She won the Great North Run half marathon last September and was aiming to become the first Ethiopian since her cousin Derartu Tulu in 2001 to win the women's race at the London Marathon.

dibabaTirunesh Dibaba, in action at the London 2012 Games, will miss this year's Virgin London Marathon

Dibaba's withdrawal leaves Olympic champion Tiki Gelana to spearhead the Ethiopian challenge at her first London Marathon. Gelana – fastest in the field with a personal best of 2 hours 18min 58sec -  will face world champion Edna Kiplagat of Kenya, plus world and Olympic silver medallist Priscah Jeptoo in a race featuring five women who have completed the distance in less than 2:20.

London Marathon race director Hugh Brasher said: "Of course, it is disappointing to lose Tirunesh.

"She has been such a fantastic athlete on the track, and everyone was full of anticipation to see how well she performed in a marathon, so we would be naturally delighted to see her return to London in 2014 as part of the London Marathon elite field.

"We still have a fantastic women's race in prospect, however, with the Olympic and World Champions going head-to-head, and so many winners from major city marathons around the world."

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