The British Olympic Association has confirmed the first seven members of the athletics squad who have been selected to Team GB for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Chris Thompson, 39, and Stephanie Davis, 30, secured their spots in Tokyo after victories at the British Athletics Marathon and 20km Walk Trial at Kew Gardens last week.
For Thompson, who became a dad for the first time earlier in the week, it capped a whirlwind few days as he achieved a personal best time, completing the course in two hours, 10 minutes and 52 seconds, which doubled as an Olympic Games qualifying standard. Ben Connor, 28, also booked his seat on the plane after finishing second, having set the qualifying standard in 2020.
They will join Scotland’s Callum Hawkins, 28, who had previously earned pre-selection in December 2019 and demonstrated current form and fitness having acted as a pacemaker at Friday’s Trial.
Stephanie Davis, who ran her first marathon only three years ago, ran inside the qualifying standard in Valencia in 2019, and her performance at Kew Gardens will see her compete for Great Britain and Northern Ireland for the first time.
Jess Piasecki, 30, and Steph Twell, 31, will join Davis in the women’s marathon in Sapporo.
Piasecki clocked a time of two hours, 25 minutes and 28 seconds at the Florence marathon in 2019, while Twell clocked a marathon personal best of two hours, 26 minutes and 40 seconds in Frankfurt in the same year.
Purdue misses out
In the current wealth of British female marathon talent someone was always going to miss out, with four athletes having secured the qualification time. Maybe unexpectedly it was Charlotte Purdue, just 10 seconds back from Piasecki’s 2:25:28, who missed out to 2:26:40 marathoner Twell.
This could potentially be down to the fact that all three missed the Trial, which Davis won commandingly, and current fitness had to be assessed by selectors from afar. Twell, who ran 16:20 for 5000m recently, was the only one with recent form and Purdue’s last performance was an excellent 68:23 half marathon, way back in February 2020.
That said, Piasecki’s last race was that 2:25 that put her third on the British all time list, in November 2019. It could simply be that Purdue didn’t put herself forward for the event either, but such is the secrecy around selection meetings, we might have to wait on Instagram posts from athletes themselves or just not really know for sure.
Bosworth walks into the Olympics
Kew Gardens also played host to the British Athletics 20km race walk trials which saw Tom Bosworth, 31, finish second to secure his qualification for Tokyo having already achieved the qualifying standard at the European Race Walking Cup in 2019 when he posted a time of one hour, 20 minutes and 53 seconds. Tokyo will be Bosworth’s second Olympic Games having finished sixth in 2016.
“It is a great privilege to be able to welcome the first seven members of the athletics squad for Tokyo into Team GB,” said Mark England, Team GB’s Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020.
“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. 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.”
The first of many athletes to be announced
UK Athletics Performance Director and Team GB Athletics Team Leader for Tokyo 2020, Sara Symington, added: “We are really pleased to be announcing the first seven members of the athletics team for the Tokyo Olympic Games. I want to congratulate all the athletes on their selection. It is a significant milestone in their careers, and a proud moment for them, their coaches and support teams, family and friends.
“Focus now turns to making sure they are prepared for that start line in Sapporo, so we will be supporting the athletes to achieve their goals at the Games.”
Selection is subject to the appeals process, with the rest of the athletics team due to be announced over the coming months.
Marathon and race walk join canoeing, sailing, sport climbing, triathlon and shooting as the first sports to announce the athletes selected to Team GB for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which will take place from 23 July to 8 August 2021.
Selected marathon athletes:
Stephanie Davis (Phillip Kissi; Clapham Chasers)
Jess Piasecki (Robert Hawkins; Stockport)
Steph Twell (Aldershot Farnham & District)
Ben Connor (Derby)
Callum Hawkins (Robert Hawkins; Kilbarchan)
Chris Thompson (Alan Storey; Aldershot Farnham & District)
Selected 20km race walk athletes:
Tom Bosworth (Andi Drake; Tonbridge)