Marathon runner to appeal Olympics snub – after being overlooked for athlete a minute slower

Charlotte Purdue, the fourth-fastest British marathon runner in history, will formally appeal her controversial omission from the first wave of track and field athletes named for the Tokyo Olympics after selectors instead chose an athlete more than one minute slower.

Team GB announced its first seven athletes for the Games on Thursday: three men and three women in the marathon, along with Commonwealth silver medallist Tom Bosworth in the 20-kilometre race walk.

However, the announcement was most notable for Purdue’s omission, who was the sole British entrant in the women’s marathon at the 2019 World Championships. Earlier that year, she was the first British finisher at the London Marathon in a personal best two hours, 25 minutes and 38 seconds.

Instead, the final spot on the women’s Olympic marathon team went to Steph Twell, whose best time of 2.26:40 came at the Frankfurt Marathon in October 2019.

Selection was always likely to prove contentious after only Steph Davis assured her place when winning last week’s Olympic marathon trials. That left the selectors two further spots to fill, with Jess Piasecki, Purdue and Twell – all of whom missed the trials – eligible having previously run the required qualification time.

Piasecki, the fastest of the trio with a 2.25:28 personal best, received her anticipated spot, but the decision to choose Twell over Purdue was far less expected.

Although she had a medical exemption to miss the trials, Purdue expects to be fully fit come Tokyo and told Telegraph Sport she will go through the official appeals process in a bid to overturn her omission.

With the selectors not having to explain their decision publicly, it leaves guesswork as the only option to decipher their thinking.

While Purdue has not raced since narrowly missing her half-marathon personal best in February 2020, Twell has completed two races in that time, most recently in a 5,000m on the track in the United States in February, perhaps allowing the selectors to be more assured of her form and fitness.

Twell also has proven experience of competing at two previous Olympics – over 1,500m in 2008 and 5,000m in 2016 – while Tokyo would be Purdue’s debut Games.

The three athletes for the men’s marathon had already been determined with 39-year-old Chris Thompson and Ben Connor confirming their places when finishing first and second at last week’s trials. Callum Hawkins was pre-selected last year.

Meanwhile, the segment of the Olympic torch relay due to pass through Osaka in two weeks’ time has been cancelled due to a rise in Covid cases in the city. It had 616 new cases on Thursday, exceeding 600 for the first time since mid-January.

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