Olympic track champion Tirunesh Dibaba has pulled out of the 2013 Virgin London Marathon. The Ethiopian three-times gold medallist was due to make her debut over 26.2 miles in London but has been forced to postpone her move up to the marathon because of a shin problem.
There had been huge excitement over Dibaba's first attempt at the marathon distance. She has a stellar running CV which includes Olympic 10,000 gold from Beijing 2008 and London 2012, Olympic 5000m gold from 2008, four World Athletics Championship gold medals and five World Cross Country Championships.
She said: "I have been in training for London marathon, but the increase in mileage has caused a flare up of my previous lower leg injury. As a result, I won't be able to compete in this year's event but I look forward to making my marathon debut there next year."
Dibaba's withdrawal leaves Olympic champion Tiki Gelana to spearhead the Ethiopian challenge at her first London Marathon. Gelana will face World Champion Edna Kiplagat of Kenya, plus World and Olympic silver medallist Priscah Jeptoo in a race featuring five women who have completed the distance in less than two hours 20 minutes.
London Marathon race director Hugh Brasher said: "Of course, it is disappointing to lose Tirunesh. She has been such a fantastic athlete on the track, and everyone was full of anticipation to see how well she performed in a marathon, so we would be naturally delighted to see her return to London in 2014 as part of the London marathon elite field.
"We still have a fantastic women's race in prospect, however, with the Olympic and World Champions going head-to-head, and so many winners from major city marathons around the world."