The long, gruelling and ruthless race for qualifying standards and places for Team GB in the Olympics is over as British athletes have come past the finish line of July 1 so now it is time for selectors to take stock of what has unfolded and study meticulously form books and performance sheets so that they can draw up the strongest possible side to line up in London.
So far, six athletes have been already selected to represent the country’s colours in the men and women’s marathon, ensuring of a full quota on show apiece, and a further 34 sealed their berths by means of automatic qualification (a top two spot plus at least a ‘current’ A standard) at the recent UK Trials, making a total of 40.
Nevertheless, this crucial session of the selectors panel will not so much be for those sure to figure at the Olympic Stadium in August as for the athletes who have yet to be confirmed on the team, many of whom will have to face long anxious hours to learn of their fate – dreams will be fulfilled but also others will dash to the ground.
But even in the darkest hour, hope may be not all lost still. Any athletes engaged in events that remain with vacancies could still hope to overturn their verdict on appeal as long as they meet the qualifying grounds of IAAF, or even obtain the necessary credentials beyond the UK Athletics but within the former body’s deadline lying on July 8.
Lee Merrien set an example and a precedent as he won his place in the men’s marathon’s team through this route when he finished outside the British A standard of 2h12:00 in the London marathon back in April, on the end of the event’s qualifying period. Yet, his time of 2h13:41 (PB) was lying well within the IAAF benchmark of 2h15:00 so decided to file an appeal that was to be met with success, although initially seeming against the odds.
Therefore, let’s take a look at how the picture of the final British team to compete in London may look like when it comes out tomorrow based on current facts and particulars.
The men’s dash looked bound for a tense last week with plenty of drama after the UK Trials but the scriptwritters, namely Charles van Commennee and his panel, opted for a bold stroke of indicating early the identity of the two sprinters to join forces with U20 sprint sensation Adam Gemili in the 100m in London; Dwain Chambers and James Dasaolu, the winner and third-placed at the UK Trials, as both were withdrawn from a virtual run-off between main contenders in the backdrop of the Europeans in Helsinki.
Both sprinters hold at least two A standards while Chambers has got also a top eight place in Berlin 2009 added to his credentials so turned perfectly eligible for selection.
‘e-Bay man’ James Ellington and Deagu captain Christian Malcolm clinched their places as top two finishers in Birmingham, holding a ‘current A’ into the bargain, but it remains doubtful whether a third individual will be entered in the event.
Richard Kilty is the only one among the rest to carry two A qualifiers but is short of fitness coming back from a hamstring injury in a 100m in Arizona last April and seems to have admitted defeat in his cause for good measure.
Therefore, the only alternative could be a discretional call-up to U23 Danny Talbot who may have got only a single A from last summer but mounted the podium at the European Championships in Helsinki and could be considered an investment for the future.
Likewise, Martyn Rooney and Conrad Williams have booked their berths on the team and selectors will most likely feel inclined to go for Nigel Levine, a narrow third in Birmingham, who has displayed smooth flowing form this summer to make up for his lone A qualifier.
World Indoor bronze medallist Andie Osagie qualifies by right after a second UK title on the trot whilst European silver medallist Mike Rimmer seems to have done enough for the selectors, third at the UK Trials, since he was also scratched from the Europeans.
The one that will be sweating until the British team is announced in the media is Welshman Gareth Warburton as he endured a one-off let-down where it mattered most fading off to fourth at the Trials. Otherwise, he has performed consistently well peaking up in a massive PB of 1:44.98 in winning in Oslo but that forms the only A qualifying time in his hands and consequently his fate lies with the selectors. A solo 1:45.81 on a wet track in the heats in Helsinki could count in his favour.
Mukhtar Mohammed, runner-up at the Trials, could have clinched his place if he weren’t short of the A qualifying standard – could he be allowed time to prove his quality until the IAAF cut-off of July 8?
Andy Baddeley and season revelation Ross Murray are waiting to board the team bus to London but no third runner look likely to follow them. David Bishop, Chris O’Hare and Tom Lancashire have ventured once each in the B qualifying territory but that cannot be enough and James Brewer hasn’t showed sufficient form along the way.
Nick McCormick came a jubilant runner-up behind winner Ross Millington to turn his current Olympic A of 13:18.81 in Huelva to full advantage and a spot on the British squad while naming world champion Mo Farah is just a matter of formality.
Chris Thompson should get the third place subject to fitness alone as he is recovering from a back injury since Tom Farrell was knocked off contention with a foot stress fracture.
Mo Farah and Chris Thompson hold the A standard from last year and are certainties to be picked, the latter provided he can be fully fit in time.
Scott Overall, Dave Webb and Lee Merrien have been already selected to represent Britain over the ultimate distance in the streets of London.
Seasoned campaigner Stuart Stokes is the only one to meet qualification criteria with a brace of Bs but is rumoured to be currently injured. If poised to recover timely, he ought to get the nod to compete the Olympics, maybe a debt due after what happened leading up to the previous Games in Beijing.
UK champion Luke Gunn and Rob Mullett have set a B qualifier each so are hanging entirely on the discretion of the selectors to get a potential call instead.
Rhys Williams‘s victory to complete a full set of medals at the Europeans has eventually earned him the third spot ahead of Nathan Woodward and he will be joining world champion Dai Greene and European U23 champion Jack Green, automatic qualifiers as top two markers in Birmingham.
World joint-leader Greg Rutherford has secured his own place on Team GB and fellow British co-record holder Chris Tomlinson ought to get the nod and the confidence of the selectors although he has been shaky so far, having been striving to make up lost ground. But he has got multiple As from last summer and a proven pedigree on the big stage which should be enough.
JJ Jegede hasn’t achieved either the A or the B standard and his own hopes hang entirely up on a new lease of life in the form of an A qualifier until the IAAF deadline of July 8. On the other hand, last year’s UK champion Julian Reid has been on a poor run of form this season.
European champion Phillips Idowu missed the Olympic Trials through a slight foot injury but he is certain to be named on the team, the sole representative in Olympics since neither Nathan Douglas nor Larry Achike could make it coming back from serious injuries.
Twice world finalist Steve Lewis has sewn up his berth for London winning in Birmingham.
New European champion Robbie Grabarz has already had his name stamped on the British team sheet and he will be waiting to find out whether he is going to be followed by a home entourage or go it alone in the Arena of the Olympic stadium at Stratford.
Samson Oni has got an A qualifier of 2.31 from the indoor season to rely on for a discretionary call-up though a better display in the final of the European Championships, where he no-heighted, would have probably bolstered up his position.
Martyn Bernard, holding a B at 2.28, and Tom Parsons had close attempts at this very height last weekend to show solid form and hopefully can make a late impact to sneak a place in ‘stoppage time’.
Carl Myerscough‘s second Olympic B and SB of 20.13 in Estonia in the dying stages of qualification period has virtually gained him a place in the sun.
Lawrence Okoye has added his name to the side’s roll courtesy of his top place at the UK Trials and last year’s British champion Abdul Buhari may have notched his with that crucial late A qualifying distance of 65.24 at the weekend.
Daegu finalist Brett Morse has somewhat found the going tough this season but his runner-up spot in Birmingham combined with his SB of 64.35 in Hendon might pip Myerscough out of the remaining third berth, who somewhat looks to have acknowledged defeat in spite of sitting equal second in the British charts.
Mark Dryhas convincingly led most of the way this season, pulling together no less than four Olympic Bs, but a late charge by Alex Smith might turn the tide in his favour at the death, winning the British title and netting two B distances in quick succession. This is going to be so tight…
Merwyn Luckwell has been sidelined with a knee complaint recently but his A standard of 82.15m should see him through. In any case, Lee Doran will be waiting in the wings entertaing some slight hopes of an 11ht hour call.
A big PB of 8102pts, highest by a Briton since 2006, totalled in Arona (Spain) in May looks certain to hand Daniel Awde a second Olympic showing on the trot, having competed in Beijing, but with improved prospects this time round.
20km Race Walking
Tom Bosworth came agonizingly close but eventually couldn’t find a way past the B qualifying standard of 1h24:30, therefore the event looks bound to be probably the only male event not to be represented in London.
50km Race Walking
Even though not even a family best, Dominic King shows poised to become the first British race walker to race over the distance since Sydney 2000 on his Olympic B mark of 4h06:34.
Once named in the individual 100m, the projected named trio of Chambers, Gemili and Dasaolu will be also automatically inserted into the short relay squad as the UK Athletics policy commands. Simeon Williamson showed that he is hauling back his best form fast with a solid fourth in Birmingham so should be considered a certainty, as should fifth-placed Malcolm who is reckoned an established member of the outfit.
A torn hamstring will probably cost Harry Aikines-Ayreety the final sixth place, a cruel blow after a solid fourth at the Europeans, in which case things may direct attention towards Mark Lewis-Francis.
As with the short relay, the trio of Rooney, Williams and Levine is set to be involved with baton-carrying duties. Rob Tobin looks very close to earn a spot while the remaining two should go between Michael Bingham, Richard Buck, Luke Lennon-Ford and maybe former regular lead-off man Andrew Steele.
With Jeanette Kwakye effectively ruled out through injury, Abi Oyepitan and Anyika Onuora will be likely the two Britons to turn up over the women’s dash in London even though they’ve got hold of a sole A qualifier each. Both look set to be named over 200m, the latter having secured an automatic slot, so they should be normally entered in the shorter sprint since already members of the team.
Ashleigh Nelson has shown the potential to edge inside the necessary standard of 11.29 and if she can bring it off until July 8 she could give herself a chance for the third spot.
Margaret Adeoye and Anyika Onuora have booked their berths by right in the event while Abi Oyepitan has virtually ensured her own as well following her second A qualifier in the heats of the Europeans in Helsinki, leading the British lists with 22.71 secs.
Along the same lines, Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu and UK Trials second marker Shana Cox have secured two places outright as top two with a ‘current’ A in Birmingham and Scot Lee McConnell could hope to get the go ahead despite a sole A at the back of her final display in Helsinki.
One thing is for sure, it can’t get any more complicated than that and hardly anyone can grasp how did it all come to such a frightful tangle. Lynsey Sharp has caused a sensation storming through from well behind to snatch a surprise British title and a fine European silver on the bounce, yet is shy of an A qualifier that would have gained her automatic passage; Marilyn Okoro and Emma Jackson sank well behind on some crazy tactics in cold conditions and an untimely fractured rib respectively at the UK Trials; Jenny Meadows is struggling for fitness with an achilles injury for months but still calls for a vote of confidence from the selectors; and Jemma Simpson hung on to a potentially crucial runner-up spot by the skin of her teeth, following up with a final place in Helsinki, but hasn’t really sparkled yet.
Therefore, it is very much a shot in the dark to tell what the final verdict will be. But if a fair play is to be served, there should be two main paths to follow: either pick three athletes outright with the names of Okoro, Jackson and Simpson coming forth on the season’s merits (given that Sharp doesn’t own an A), or go for an initial two selections and name a provisional two or three athletes to draw a third choice on after the IAAF deadline of July 8… A third, more radical, option suggested in some quarters would be to solely name the women in form, namely Sharp, which would have everyone else involved watch the action from the stands in August…
Steve Cram’s Laura Weightman has tucked away her place following an emphatic victory at the UK Trials and she is certain to be accompanied by world silver medallist Hannah England and Lisa Dobriskey over the ‘metric mile’.
Julia Bleasdale‘s fabulous runner-up display in a big PB of 15:12.77, an Olympic A, may have earned her a second place on the British outfit alongside Jo Pavey and Barbara Parker, the top duo in Birmingham. By stark contrast, Daegu finalist Helen Clitheroe is struggling for form coming back from injury and looks set to miss out, as does Steph Twell who has been on the sidelines over the last few weeks.
Bleasdale and Pavey are expected to double up over the longer distance as the only two to fulfil the top drawer qualifying standards.
World record holder Paula Radcliffe, Mara Yamauchi and new find Claire Hallissey have been selected carry the British colours in this event.
Eilish McColgan has earned her spurs as winner of the UK Trials, holding a ‘current’ A, and is expected to be joined by new British record holder Barbara Parker, who will be doubling up over the 5K as well. The question is whether Hattie Archer (nee Dean), fourth at the Europeans in Barcelona, can be given a vote of confidence as she is racing herself back to full fitness.
World indoor silver medallist Tiffany Porter will be the only British in action over the sticks in London as Jessica Ennis, gaining an automatic spot herself in Birmingham, will be focussing her efforts in the heptathlon. Beijing finalist Sarah Claxton has skimmed outside the B standard but that wouldn’t have been sufficient to earn her a ticket anyway.
Perri Shakes-Drayton and Eilidh Child have wrapped up their places in style and will be heading to the Olympics but Meghan Beesley came up short in an all-or-nothing last crack at the Europeans in Helsinki.
No female British high jumper have reached even the B qualifying region (1.92m) and consequently the event won’t have any British presence in the Olympics.
World indoor bronze medallist Holly Bleasdale and Kate Dennison have secured automatic spots where it is unknown whether U20 Katie Byres, posting an A qualifier on the boards, might be afforded a chance to draw priceless experience in the hustle and bustle of the Olympic environment.
New British record holder Shara Proctor has got her place in the bag and is focussing entirely on her build-up to London but U23 revelation Abigail Irozuru will be sweating until she learns her fate as she hasn’t managed to back up her huge PB and A qualifier of 6.80m in Sofia, relying heavily on the selectors discretion.
Also U23 Lorraine Ugen came short by the narrowest of margins (6.74m) at the UK Trials but hasn’t competed since so that she could gain a footing in the top tier of qualifying territory.
World indoor champion Yamile Aldama is expected to be named in the British squad and lay a claim on that elusive Olympic medal.
Eden Francis suffered heartbreak as she came close to a second B qualifier with a last-ditch 17.10m at the weekend and will be laying her hopes with the selection panel to grant her an opening.
Jade Nicholls took the burden of qualification off her shoulders with a brace of Bs on the double early in the season but she has been going backwards rather than forwards since so she will be feeling far from safe until Olympic selections come out.
As soon as she landed the implement out at 71.61m in San Diego, Sophie Hitchon had ensured of a place and went on to cap it with a comfortable win at the UK Trials on a fabulous run of form. Despite enjoying solid seasons, neither Sarah Holt or Zoe Derham managed to make the grade.
Goldie Sayers has long been a certainty for selection and stamped her berth in winning the British title by a huge margin.
Jessica Ennis and U20 sensation Katarina Johnson-Thompson have ensured of their places with impressive displays on the circuit and Commonwealth champion Louise Hazell looks to have got the nod as well following her withdrawal from the Europeans in Helsinki, making for a full complement for Britain in the event.
20km Race Walking
Commonwealth champion Jo Jackson has long laid the foundations for her selection to the team having comfortably bagged an A qualifying time from last year.
Following the disaster of disqualification in the heats of the Europeans in Helsinki, there will be no British team to contest the event which is a sad prospect and a blow for the women’s sprints.
Like with the men, Christine Ohuruogu and Shana Cox, the two outright individual qualifiers from the UK Trials, are automatically entered and from there on the hurdles duo of Perri Shakes-Drayton and Eilidh Child along with Lee McConnell and Nicola Sanders look poised to fall in the make-up of the six-strong long relay team.