Pavey could be overtaken in race for final Olympic marathon slot
Hallissey's heroics in London give GB selectors a headache as Kenyans dominate podium places
Monday 23 April 2012
This will not have made comfortable viewing for Jo Pavey. It was her decision not to compete in yesterday's London Marathon, instead hoping the time she set last year would prove enough to earn her the third and final host nation place in the women's marathon at this summer's Olympics. She could then only sit and watch as not one but two British women ran inside her time.
Claire Hallissey crossed the finish line as the first Briton, in 2:27.44, 40 seconds quicker than Pavey, and when the selectors meet today it will be the name of the 29-year-old US-based runner who is favourite to be inked in next to Paula Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi. Freya Murray, a Scottish cross-country specialist running her first marathon, also went inside Pavey's time.
The women's race was won by Mary Keitany – the men's went to her compatriot Wilson Kipsang as Kenyans occupied five of six spots on the podium across the two elite events – in 2:18.37 but the home focus was on Hallissey, who finished 11th, two places and just 26 seconds ahead of Murray, the dark horse among the British contingent.
"Everything seemed to click," said Hallissey, who moved to the US when her husband's job took him to Washington DC. She has made brisk progress since the switch, taking seven minutes off her personal best. "It's always difficult in the marathon, you can never tell until you get near the finish if you are going to maintain the pace. It was the fastest I have ever gone out. I could feel the extra pace and it did hurt. There was no point turning up and running a conservative race. It was all or nothing. I have done everything I came here to do but it's in the selectors' hands. It would be fantastic. A home Olympics is a chance of a lifetime."
Keitany defended her title in style, finishing in a personal best. Only two women, one of them Radcliffe, have run quicker. Edna Kiplagat and Priscah Jeptoo followed her home. Keitany is now firm favourite for the Olympics, as is Kipsang, who eased away from the field after the halfway mark. He finished in 2:04.44, two minutes clear of Martin Lel and Ethiopia's Tsegaye Kebede.
No British men completed the course inside the Olympic qualifying time. Scott Overall, who has already earned a Games place following a fifth-placed finish in last year's Berlin Marathon, dropped out with a hamstring injury. Lee Merrien finished 17th, but over a minute and a half outside the qualifying time. There was British success in the men's and women's wheelchair races. David Weir equalled Tanni Grey-Thompson's six London wins after beating Marcel Hug of Switzerland by one second. Shelly Woods was a comfortable winner in the women's race to claim her second success in the capital.
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