May 22, 2016
Saturday night were the 2016 British Olympic 10,000m Trials, held as part of the “Highgate Harriers Night of the 10,000m PBs” in London. Stakes were high with potentially four automatic qualifying spots for the Rio Olympics on the line and the atmosphere was electric as thousands of fans lined the track, many of whom hung out in the make-shift “beer tent” which the runners came through on each lap.
The night did not disappoint as the women’s race was a complete shocker with total unknown Jess Andrews crushing her PB by 83 seconds to blow away Kenya’s 2009 world champion Linet Masai in the final lap and win the race to book her ticket to Rio. Andrews ran 31:58 to Masai’s 32:02 and behind them Beth Potter secured the second automatic qualifying spot, running 32:05 for 3rd.
Further back, former NCAA XC champ Kate Avery put herself in contention for Olympic qualification as she was the third GB runner (5th overall) in 32:11 and in 10th place (6th Brit), was the 42-year-old European champion Jo Pavey who was trying to secure a spot on her fifth Olympic team.
The 23-year-old Andrews, who had only run a 10,000 on the track once before (33:21.23), had a promising junior career before she says she “felt out of love with racing” and took some time “just relaxing” and not competing before making her way back to the sport. Now she “can’t believe” she’s off to Rio and her post-race interview with the BBC echoed the LRC motto as she said:
“Everyone dreams of the Olympics. But it’s whether you’re dreaming about the reality, or whether you think, ah, it’s a dream, it’s never going to happen. I’m still a little bit shell-shocked. I’ve been training really hard, crazy hard, and I believed it was going to be my day. It’s weird – I’d had vibes in training, thinking I was feeling really good, and I had nothing to lose.”
In contrast to Andrews, all-time GB great Jo Pavey did not have a good night. She had been suffering from a chest infection and was on antibiotics and only decided the morning before that she was going to race. It didn’t work out for her as not only did she finish outside of the British top-2, but she failed to get the 32:15 qualifying standard. Post-race she told The Telegraph:
“I didn’t know whether to run or not but I just thought I may as well give it a go and take a gamble because if I didn’t then I was in the same position anyway. I feel bad saying this and making excuses because all the girls ran so brilliantly, but it’s just been two weeks of wondering if I could get away with so little training. Everyone gets ill at some point but you just don’t want the bad timing of it.”
Pavey could still hypothetically qualify for Rio in the 10,000 if she runs the 32:15 standard and the British selectors choose her for the third discretionary spot. However, given the lack of good opportunities to run a fast 10K, she feels she’s better off shooting for Rio in the 5,000. She told The Telegraph, “It’s hard to know where to go from here but I’m not going to give up on getting in the team yet.”
On the men’s side, the final result was a little less meaningful as Ross Millington (1st – 28:28) and Dewi Griffiths (3rd – 28:34) were the first two Brits across the line, but neither have the 28:00 qualifying mark for Rio. Mo Farah is already selected and the only other Brit with the standard is Andy Vernon, who was only the 3rd GB runner here, finishing in 28:48. Now Millington (who had a previous PB of 28:38 from Stanford this year) and Griffiths (previous PB of 28:48 from 2014) will need to chase the 28-flat qualifying standard if they want to go to Rio and Vernon will have to hope that those two don’t get the mark and that British selectors choose him for a discretionary spot.
“I’m so disappointed – I did my best, but I had limited time to prepare given the last eight months I’ve had. If it had been in a month’s time it might have been a different scenario – I don’t like to make excuses, but it’s the truth. I wasn’t quite ready tonight, but hopefully I will be in two months’ time if I’m on that plane.”
Top results and race videos are below. You can go here for all race results.
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*BBC: Jess Andrews Wins British 10,000m Title As Jo Pavey Falters
*The Telegraph: Jo Pavey’s Olympic Games Ambitions Dealt A Huge Blow As She Fails To Hit Qualifying Time And Finishes 6th At National Trials
*The Guardian: “Jo Pavey’s Olympic Hopes In Balance After Missing Out In 10,000”