Reuters - Tue, 20 Apr 09:33:00 2010
Olympic gold medallist Sammy Wanjiru's hopes of defending his London Marathon title have been boosted by the news that race organisers have arranged for a private plane to pick him up from Kenya.
The move followed air travel restrictions over much of Europe due to volcanic ash after last week's eruption in Iceland, raising fears that elite overseas runners would not be able to compete in Sunday's race.
Wanjiru will be joined by several other Kenyan athletes on the specially arranged flight.
"I have just done my last morning run in Kenya and am about to start my journey by road to Nairobi where we shall be airlifted to Spain and await further instructions," the 24-year-old told Reuters from his home in Nyahururu.
An aviation source at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport said a Gulfstream jet from Egypt would land at the main Kenyan airport later in the afternoon to fly the athletes to Europe via a stop in Djibouti to pick up more runners.
Wanjiru, who also won the last Chicago Marathon, said another jet would pick them up in Spain for the onward leg of the journey to London.
"Fatigue may affect us during the race and my agent has indicated to me that he another jet will pick us in Spain. I think travelling by road or train from Spain to London may be too long for us," he said.
Other Kenyans expected to accompany Wanjiru on the trip are world marathon champion Abel Kirui, Duncan Kibet and Emmanuel Mutai, with runners from Ethiopia and Eritrea joining the travelling party in Djibouti.
"I have trained well and I am ready for the race. We shall run as a team to ensure we deliver the title with my colleagues," Wanjiru added.
London Marathon: Sunday 25th April 9am LIVE on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin 521) & Eurosport Player