News Archive

News Archive

21st Vienna City Marathon on Sunday: Lidia Simon wants to show she is back and qualify for Athens

Lidia Simon, one of the world’s top women marathon runners of the last

decade, has chosen Sunday’s 21st Vienna City Marathon to qualify for the

Olympic Marathon in Athens in August. Romania’s national qualifying time

of 2:37:00 should be no hurdle for the national record holder (2:22:54). In its

20 year history the Vienna City Marathon has never before seen such a strong

woman runner as Lidia Simon. Sunday’s marathon will once again be

Austria’s biggest single day sporting event of the year. Adding runners

who will participate at shorter distances, organisers of the Vienna City

Marathon expect about 20,000 athletes to take part.

It is nearly three years ago when Lidia Simon celebrated the biggest win of

her outstanding career. The Romanian won the marathon at the World

Championships in Edmonton. A year earlier she had won the Olympic silver medal.

Since neither Olympic Champion Naoko Takahashi (Japan) nor the bronze medal

winner from Sydney Joyce Chepchumba (Kenya) were selected for Athens Simon

could be the only marathon runner with a medal from the previous games. She was

second in 2000 finishing just eight seconds behind Takahashi.

In 2002 Simon interrupted her career due to pregnancy. It was on Christmas

Eve when she gave birth to a son (Cristian). Last autumn she came back to

marathon running, but only finished in a time beyond 2:40 at the Chicago


Speaking at a press conference today the 30 year-old runner said she should

be able to show a much better performance on Sunday: “In general I feel

physically stronger after giving birth. And I hope to run faster times in

future. As for Sunday I will look for a first half of about 73 minutes. That

should be relatively easy for me, so I hope to cover the second half a bit


It will be a tougher job for Sonia Oberem to qualify for Athens, which was

supposed to be her final marathon race. Since the German qualifying standard is

set at 2:30:00 and Oberem had injury problems until April she is not sure

whether her training will be good enough to snatch a very last ticket for the

Olympics. “I remember Vienna well. So it was my first choice to run

here”, Oberem said. The 31 year-old German was third in Vienna four years

ago clocking 2:27:25. Besides her bronze medal from the European Championships

in 2002 she has an extraordinary world championships’ record: Oberem

finished 8th, 7th, 6th and 5th between 1995 and 2001. Additionally she was 8th

at the Olympics in 1996.

In contrast the men’s top contenders will not run for a ticket to

Athens on Sunday. Kenyans Moses Tanui, Raymond Kipkoech, Samson Kandie, Matthew

Sigei and Patrick Chumba are regarded as potential winners. “I hope to be

able to run a sub 2:10 time. My training went very well”, Moses Tanui

said. At 38 years he wants to show that he can still cope with his countrymen.

But there will be a chase for Athens in the men’s race as well.

Austria’s best marathon runner Michael Buchleitner hopes to finish inside

2:13:00 and may be even break the 18 year-old national record. It was Gerhard

Hartmann who won the Vienna City Marathon back in 1986 clocking 2:12:22.