Grainger and Watkins start elite races at the Virgin Money London Marathon

Three of Britain’s 2012 Olympic medallists will be the official starters of the 2014 London Marathon on Sunday 13 April.

Rowers Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins will push the famous red button at the ‘blue start’ on Shooters Hill to send some 36,000 runners and wheelchair racers on their way in the Virgin Money London Marathon, while diver Tom Daley will start the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon, a three-mile race for young athletes aged 11-17.

Grainger and Watkins, who together won the women’s double sculls gold at the London 2012 Games, are both running the London Marathon themselves this year, Grainger for International Inspiration (IN), a charity which uses the power of sport to transform the lives of children and young people around the world, especially those who are most excluded from basic rights and opportunities, and Watkins for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Grainger shares with swimmer Rebecca Adlington the distinction of being Britain’s most decorated female Olympian. Before her celebrated London gold, Grainger won three silver medals at the Olympic Games in Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, making her the only British sportswoman to win medals at four consecutive Games. She is also a six-times world champion.

After finishing her PhD in law last May, and writing her autobiography, Dreams Do Come True, Grainger now faces what she calls “the scary challenge” of running 26.2 miles:

“Having the opportunity to take part in the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon on behalf of International Inspiration is a privilege in itself, but having been asked to start the race on its behalf is an honour.

“I can’t wait to feel the energy of a ‘home crowd’ again as I take part in one of the most iconic marathons in the world.”

Watkins, who has two Olympic and four world rowing medals to her name, gave birth to her first child, William, last September. She currently fits in coaching and motivational speaking, studying for a PhD in mathematics, and a little bit of rowing, around her childcare duties and marathon training.

She said: “I’m truly honoured and so excited to be asked to start the Virgin Money London Marathon this year. I’m running as part of Team Macmillan to help ensure that no one faces cancer alone so I can’t wait to pull on my green vest and do my bit.”

Among the talented athletes who will set off from Blackheath in pursuit of 2014 London Marathon titles will be two more of Britain’s 2012 gold medallists – double Olympic champion Mo Farah, who is making his marathon debut in a high-quality men’s elite race, and David Weir, the quadruple Paralympic champion who is going for a record seventh London Marathon wheelchair victory.

In all 13 London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic athletics gold medallists will be racing over the famous course from Blackheath to The Mall, including five London 2012 marathon champions: Stephen Kiprotich (men), Tiki Gelana (women), David Weir (men’s T54 wheelchair), Shirley Reilly (women’s T54 wheelchair) and Tito Sena (men’s T46).

The elite will be followed by thousands of club athletes, fun runners, charity fund-raisers, celebrities, politicians and fancy dress costume wearers.

Britain’s future champions will be on show in the Mini London Marathon, a series of races over the last three miles of the course involving more than 2,000 of the country’s best young runners and wheelchair racers.

Daley, still a teenager himself, will set them on their way from Old Billingsgate. The 19-year-old won a bronze medal in the individual 10m platform event at London 2012 having won the world title in 2009 and two medals for England at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. He now presents ITV’s celebrity diving show, Splash!.

“I’m really excited to be starting the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon on Sunday morning as part of my role as an adidas ambassador,” said Daley. “It’s great to see so many young people taking part in the race. It’s a great event to be a part of, and, who knows, maybe there’s a future Olympic champion in the field.”

An audio interview with Tom Daley talking about the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon is available here: For audio files go to: http://tinyurl.com/vmlmaud

Daley will also present the Mini Marathon winners with their medals and prizes while the first three finishers in the men’s, women’s, wheelchair and IPC Athletics Marathon World Cup races will receive trophies from the London Marathon chairman, Sir John Spurling, and Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive of Virgin Money.

Here is a list of all the official starters and presenters:

Official starters

Tom Daley, London 2012 Olympic diving bronze medallist

‘Old Billingsgate’

08:40     Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon

For all Mini London Marathon start times go to: http://www.minimarathon.co.uk/articles/race-start-times/

Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins, London 2012 Olympic rowing gold medallists

‘Blue Start’

08:55               Elite Wheelchair Races

09:00               IPC Athletics Marathon World Cup

09:15               Elite Women

10:00               Elite Men

Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of the London Borough of Lewisham

‘Green Start’

10:00               Mass Race

Councillor Angela Cornforth, Mayor of the Royal London Borough of Greenwich

‘Red Start’

10:00                Mass race

 Trophy presenters

10:30                Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon

Tom Daley

12:30                Virgin Money London Marathon

Jayne-Anne Gadhia CBE – Chief Executive, Virgin Money &

Sir John Spurling KCVO OBE – Chairman, London Marathon Ltd

-ends-

For more information about the Virgin Money London Marathon contact:

Nicola Okey 020 7481 0959 / 07799 661345; nicolao@london-marathon.co.uk

The 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon takes place on Sunday 13 April. For more information, media guides and details of accreditation go to: www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com

For the latest news about the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon during race week (Monday 7 – Monday 14 April) go to: http://lrn.london-marathon.com

Free video and audio interviews from Virgin Money London Marathon race week are available for use by the media.

For video files go to: http://tinyurl.com/vmlmvid

For audio files go to: http://tinyurl.com/vmlmaud

Article courtesy of  the Virgin Money London Marathon News pages