Great Britain Controversially Picks Final 2 Women’s Olympic Marathoners – Did They Make The Right Call?

By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2021 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

(01-Apr) — Six days after the first stand-alone British Olympic Trials Marathon in 41 years, British Athletics has named their marathon squad for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

On the men’s side Trials winner Chris Thompson, 39, and runner-up Ben Connor, 28, were named to the team.  Both men earned their Olympic berths through their Trials performances by finishing first and second, respectively, with the Olympic Games qualifying standard of 2:11:30 or better in hand at the conclusion of the race.  Thompson earned his standard during the Trials by running a career best of 2:10:52, while Connor ran 2:11:20 at the Virgin Money London Marathon last October (he ran 2:12:06 in the Trials).  Tokyo will be Thompson’s second Olympics (he finished 25th in the 10,000m in London in 2012), and Connor’s first.

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Callum Hawkins, 28, who acted as a pacemaker in the Trials partially to demonstrate his fitness to British Athletics, had been pre-selected for the team in December, 2019, based primarily on his fourth place finish at the 2019 World Athletics Championships Marathon in Doha.  The Tokyo Games will be his second Olympics; he finished ninth in Rio in 2016 in the marathon.

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For the women, Trials winner Steph Davis, 30, was named to the team after her victory and personal best 2:27:16 last Friday. She was the only woman to earn a guaranteed team birth via the Trials, and Tokyo will be her first Olympics. British Athletics selectors then named Jess Piasecki, 30, and Steph Twell, 31, to the team, two of the three remaining British women who possessed the Games qualifying standard of 2:29:30 or better.  The third, Charlotte Purdue, who ran 2:25:38 at the Virgin Money London Marathon in 2019, was passed over. She is likely to appeal that decision.

Neither Piasecki and Twell competed in the Trials.  Piasecki, née Coulson, hasn’t run a marathon since her 2:25:29 at Florence in November, 2019.  Tokyo will be her first Games.  Twell, who has battled injuries throughout her career, failed to finish the Virgin Money London Marathon last October, but ran 2:26:40 in Frankfurt in October, 2019, to secure her qualifying mark.  Tokyo will be her third Games; she competed in the 1500m heats in Beijing in 2008, and made the semi-finals of the 5000m in Rio in 2016.

“It was clear from watching the coverage of the qualifying event last week, and seeing the emotion felt by each athlete as they crossed the finish line, just how much this selection means to them,” said Mark England, Team GB’s chef de mission for the Tokyo Games.  “The hard work and dedication that goes into securing Olympic qualification is admirable, especially in a year that has come with so many challenges. “I’d like to congratulate everyone on their fantastic achievements, and we look forward to welcoming them to Tokyo this summer.”

Talk about the controversial decision on the letsrun.com messageboard. MB: Act like you are the British Olympic women’s team selectors, pick 2 of the following 3 women for the Olympic team

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