Robinson prepared for tough test

Edinburgh event part of Beijing bid

COMMONWEALTH marathon bronze medallist Dan Robinson's preparations for this summer's Olympic Games go up a notch or two tomorrow in the Bupa Great Edinburgh Run.

Robinson has admitted he will be more than happy with a top-20 finish in Beijing, and the country's No1 is still awaiting confirmation of his selection for after winning the UK trial in last month's Flora London Marathon but meantime his attentions are focussed on the Scottish capital, where his main opponents will be Commonwealth 10,000 metres champion Boniface Kiprop and Bernard Kipyego, last year's world cross-country bronze medallist.

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"There are 17 weeks starting Sunday before the Olympic marathon and it will be great to get a couple of runs under my belt before concentrating on the marathon again," Robinson, 33, said.

"I normally have a 12-week run-in and I'm competing here and then doing two more 10kms in Manchester and London later this month.

"In the London marathon I didn't run as big a personal best as I'd hoped, but I did what I had to do and I was pleased.

"I've recovered okay and the fact that it's a tough course in Edinburgh means there's no real pressure on me – I can go out there and just run as hard as I can."

Looking ahead to China, Robinson recalled the 2004 Games marathon, where Stefano Baldini was a shock winner ahead of Meb Keflezighi and Vanderlei de Lima as the trio upset the more fancied favourites including then world record holder Paul Tergat.

"As we saw in Athens anything can happen and although there will be much faster runners than me in the field – some who have been under two hours five minutes in big city marathons – this is a different kind of race," said the Englishman.

Robinson since then has graduated by clinching 12th and 11th at the last two World Championships, the latter seeing him cope brilliantly with the heat and humidity of Osaka last summer.

Significantly Robinson on that occasion finished very strongly after a successful acclimatisation programme as several high-profile opponents wilted in the conditions.

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Now Robinson is searching to build up his strength for what will be another test of his endurance for his second Olympic appearance in August, where the conditions are expected to be very similar.

As far as the women's title is concerned in Edinburgh tomorrow, former world cross-country champion Benita Johnson will start favourite, but she can expect a tough challenge from Kenya's Rose Cheruiyot.

Johnson has always maintained African runners are not invincible and having proved that with her 2004 world cross gold medal, she has maintained that conviction. She returns to Edinburgh just five weeks after leading the Australian team coached by Sonia O'Sullivan to their first team medals behind Ethiopia and Kenya in Holyrood Park.

"I've been here a few times," said Johnson. "I've always wanted to do this race and it's never worked out but this time it has. I've heard a lot of good things about this race."

Meanwhile, only two weeks into the outdoor season, pole vaulter Scott Huggins (Blackheath & Bromley) and shot putter Anglo Jamie Stevenson (Newham & Essex Beagles) have broken both Scottish junior records.

Huggins took his own record from 4.81m to 5.05m in London, and at the Loughborough Open Stevenson, who already holds the indoor record, increased the outdoor shot record to 17.94m.

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