Britain’s last male London Marathon winner Eamonn Martin believes double Olympic champion Mo Farah has “all of the credentials” and has a chance at victory on his debut next year
It’s not unusual for athletes to transfer their success on the track to the road, and that’s exactly what Eamonn Martin believes British runners must do in order to improve the standard of British men’s marathon running.
The most recent British male winner of the London Marathon is well placed to offer his advice. The 54-year-old stormed to victory over the 26.2-mile course on his first attempt at the distance in 1993, famously out-sprinting Mexican Isidro Rico. His winning time of 2:10:50 remained a PB, despite four other positive marathon experiences in later years.
Martin admits he never expected 20 years would go by without another British athlete winning, but says that if anyone can do it, Mo Farah can.
The 30-year-old claimed victories in the 5000m and 10,000m at the London 2012 Olympics and is to run the first half of this year’s London Marathon as a “dry run” ahead of his marathon debut in the city next year.
Prior to his London Marathon success, Martin broke the British 10,000m record with 27:23.06 at his first attempt in the event in 1988 before winning the Commonwealth 10,000m title in 1990. His UK record was the fourth quickest ever for the distance at that time.
Although he could have made his marathon debut earlier, Martin says he was right to focus on the shorter distances for as long as he did and thinks this is something that the present crop of athletes need to take on board in order to improve the standard of British men’s marathon running.
“We had a good spell with me, Paul Evans and Richard Nerurkar all winning big marathons, but we were all Olympians on the track as well,” he told AW. “I think that is a message to the current 5km runners that they need to be looking towards the marathon. To be successful at the marathon, you need to be a world-class 10,000m runner first.”
He suggests that Britain needs to assemble a quality group of 5km runners, who build up to the marathon over the years, as they develop the strength. “I certainly did not expect 20 years to go by after my title before another British athlete won,” he says. “But Mo (Farah) has a chance next year. He has all of the credentials.”
» This is an extract from a feature on Eamonn Martin included in the April 18 issue of Athletics Weekly, which came out on Thursday. Martin was interviewed by Emily Moss.