Dionicio Ceron was so confident of winning the London Marathon again that he was even talking about running the fastest time ever for the distance.

Yet halfway through the race, his title and the world's best time appeared headed for Antonio Pinto. The Portuguese was literally out of sight, some 62 seconds ahead and on course to beat the 2 hours, 6 minutes, 50 seconds set by Ethiopia's Belayneh Densimo at the Rotterdam Marathon in 1988.Ceron didn't panic.

"I felt very strong and had a lot of confidence in myself," said the Mexican, who spent almost the entire race with Australia's Steve Moneghetti at his shoulder.

"Having Moneghetti with me was very good because we were able to push all the time. The world record could not have happened because the pace in the first part of the race was too fast to keep up and then there was too much wind."

He guessed it right.

Pinto ran into a wall of wind two miles from the finish line and Ceron and Moneghetti caught up with the tiring Portuguese. At the final bend, the Mexican took the lead and held it to win by three seconds and become the first man to win the London Marathon twice.

Ceron won in 2:08.30, the second fastest time in the 15-year history of the race, while Moneghetti was clocked in 2:08.33 and Pinto, winner in 1992, 2:08.48. The Australian also was runner up in 1989.

South Africa, which had never before had a top-10 finisher, had three runners in the first nine.

Xolile Yawa placed fourth in 2:10.22, Willie Mtolo was seventh in 2:11.35 and Johannes Mabitle was ninth in 2:11.39.

In the women's race, Poland's Malgorzata Sobanska ended Katrin Dorre's three-year reign as champion by winning in 2:27.43.

European champion Manuela Machado of Portugal was second, 10 seconds behind, with Finland's Ritva Lemettinen third in 2:28.00.

Dorre, a 33-year-old German, placed seventh behind American runner Kim Jones, the early race leader. Jones clocked 2:31.35 and Dorre had 2:32.16.