Phil Wicks had to grit his teeth and dig deep in the late stages of the Amsterdam marathon on Sunday to eventually edge inside the Olympic B standard in a PB of 2h15:37 and bring his London dream to life.

The 27-year-old Belgrave Harrier, in his initiation over the distance, started brightly and was on schedule for a time even under the A standard of 2h12 for much of the race.

But having missed his drinks up to the 24th kilometre counted against him and his chances as he cramped up around the 32nd and was forced to drop his pace, yet he fought bravely all the way and was able to save the day in the end.

His debut time was good enough to carry him straight up to number four in the British rankings this season but he will most likely need more to make the starting line in the Olympics in London come summer.

Scott Overall‘s naming in the top tier of UK Athletics funding yesterday effectively means that he ought to be picked for the marathon in the Olympic team when the relative selectors panel meet for the first time on December 5, therefore anyone else wishing to follow him through will have to duck inside 2h12 as well.

But a solid footing on the edge of that terriroty has been obtained and Wicks can sense that has got a fair chance of making it to the end himself, hopefully everything falling in place next time out.

Out in the front, the Kenyan contingent in action, led by pre-race favourite Wilson Chebet, carried out yet another marauding foray into the streets of a European city to sweep everything before them and not even Sileshi Sihine (ETH), the Beijing silver medallist and off a 26:39.69 platform over 10000m, could come up with anything to shake them and had to pull out around the 36th kilometre for a disappointing debut.

Having won in Rotterdam in a big PB and third fastest so far in the world 2h05:27 last April, Chebet thrived on Dutch soil once again in very much perfect racing conditions to pull away in the late phases from a relatively large leading pack and claim a convincing victory in 2h05:53, his second fastest ever and just 10 seconds outside the course record. As a matter of fact, he didn’t miss mentioning “I love the courses in this country (Holland)” in his post-race interview.

Laban Korir came through late to snatch the runner-up spot in a PB of 2h06:05 from pacemaker-turned-contender Erick Ndiema, who set a world best by an U20 in an astounding 2h06:07, while also ‘rabbit’ Nicholas Manza came fourth to add to the superb string of PBs in 2:06.34 and the stunning depth of the race – the ninth, tenth and equal fifteenth fastest times in the world this season! First non-Kenyan home, in fact, was Eritrean Samuel Tsegay in a PB of his own in 2h07:28 for only eighth.

Needless to say, the Kenyans enjoy a frightening dominance with no equal in the history of any Olympic event as their runners occupy the top 14 places in the global lists this season, with Manza making it a virtual top 15 as he is level with Brasilian Marilson dos Santos in that place.

Tiki Gelana salvaged some pride for the Ethiopians as she stormed to the win in a course record of 2h22:08 (PB) in the women’s affair, fifth fastest in the world, while Eyerusalem Kuma made it a one-two in a PB of 2h24:55 and former world cross-country champion Lorna Kiplagat (NED) was third in 2h25:52.

Men’s Results

1.Wilson Chebet (KEN) 2h05:53, 2.Laban Korir (KEN) 2h06:05 (PB), 3.Eric Ndiema (KEN) 2h06:07 (PB), 4.Nicholas Manza (KEN) 2h06:34 (PB), 5.Elijah Keitany (KEN) 2h06:53, 6.Paul Biwott (KEN) 2h06:54 (PB), 7.John Kiprotich (KEN) 2h07:08 (PB), 8.Samuel Tsegay (ERI) 2h07:28 (PB), …, 21.Phil Wicks (GBR) 2h15:37 (PB)

Women’s Results

1.Tiki Gelana (ETH) 2h22:08 (PB, CR), 2.Eyerusalem Kuma (ETH) 2h24:55 (PB), 3.Lornah Kiplagat (NED) 2h25:52, 4.Genet Getaneh (ETH) 2h25:57  (PB), 5.Nailya Yulamanova (RUS)  2h26:39

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