Madison de Rozario, the Australian Paralympic champion, added another title to her collection at the London Marathon.
In one of the closest-fought races in the event’s history, De Rozario won the women’s wheelchair race in a course record, beating her Swiss pursuer Manuela Schar by just one second.
Four of the world’s best racers jostled for position coming into the final sprint down the Mall, and De Rozario secured pole position. She held off her chasers with a long, powerful push to the finish line to win her second London crown, five years after her first.
De Rozario clocked a new course record of one hour 38 minutes 51 seconds, just one second ahead of Schar. Another Swiss racer, Catherine Debrunner, and American Susannah Scaroni were just behind, with only six seconds separating the quartet.
This was another honour to add to De Rozario’s remarkable CV, which already includes two Paralympic wins in Tokyo, three world titles, and four Commonwealth golds. De Rozario is 29 years old.
“That was an intimidating field to be a part of. You look around and see these three women you’re pushing with and thinking, ‘these are the best athletes in the world’,” smiled the Perth athlete.
“Cat (Debrunner) won this race last year in a course record, Manuela’s been dominant for such a long time, and Susannah’s come off the back of winning Boston by five minutes.
“So to win a sprint from them was amazing.”
Even more remarkably, de Rozario was able to produce her brilliant sprint finish just six days after finishing runner-up in the Boston Marathon, when she finished more than five minutes adrift of Scaroni as runner-up.
For a moment in the denouement, it appeared as if four-time winner Schar was going to squeeze by, but de Rozario wouldn’t relinquish her slight advantage.
“I saw Manuela’s wheel coming up alongside me, but I just kept focused. The race is so important to me – and to be alongside people I admire so much is amazing.”
“When I had to pull out last year, it was devastating for me,” said de Rozario. “So, just to cross the finish line was really special.”