Emmanuel Mutai and Patrick Makau go head-to-head in London Marathon

Emmanuel Mutai also finished second in the New York marathon in November

Emmanuel Mutai is to defend his London Marathon title on 22 April - 16 weeks before the Olympic men's marathon.

He is one of six Kenyans in the field including world record holder Patrick Makau, three time champion Martin Lel and double world champion Abel Kirui.

Race director David Bedford said: "We expect the battle for podium places to be even more ferocious than usual."

Mutai, ran the fourth fastest marathon to break the course record last year in two hours, four minutes and 40 seconds.

It smashed the previous record by 30 seconds.

Kenya's men secured a 1-2-3 and just eight days after this year's event Kenyan selectors will name their three entrants for the Olympic marathon which will take place on 12 August.

The Kenyan squad also includes 2011 world silver medallist Vincent Kipruto and Frankfurt Marathon winner Wilson Kipsang.

"Last year was an amazing one for Kenyan marathon runners around the world and we are delighted to welcome this hugely talented half dozen to London for the 2012 men's race," said Bedford, speaking from Kenya's Rift Valley town of Iten, a popular high-altitude training centre with the world's leading athletes.