Watch Olympic hopefuls in Kew Gardens on national TV

By The Editor

26th Mar 2021 | Local News

Athletes are competing this morning in Kew Gardens for a spot at this year's Olympic Games.

The British trials for the men's and women's marathon and 20km walks are taking place.

You can watch them on the BBC Sport website or iPlayer.

To secure a spot in the Great Britain Marathon team at the Tokyo Olympics later this year, runners will need to have the qualifying time from the 1st January 2019 (2:11:30 for Men and 2:29:30 for Women) AND place in the top 2 in the Trials at Kew Gardens on Friday 26th March.

Ben Connor (Derby) is the fastest in the men's marathon field having gone inside the Olympic qualifying standard with a time of 2:11.20 at the Virgin Money London Marathon last October. He will be seeking one of the top two positions to earn automatic selection for the Tokyo Olympic Games. Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans; Swansea) will be among those who will also be chasing the qualifying standard at the event having posted a 2019 best of 2:11.46. Christopher Thompson (Alan Storey; Aldershot, Farnham & District) will be another strong contestant after his fantastic Half Marathon performance at The Vitality Big Half last year where he placed 2nd behind Kenenisa Bekele in a time of 1:01:07 (just 7 seconds off his personal best set in 2012). Mohamud Aadan (Paul Oppe, Thames Valley) will be making an exciting Marathon debut coming off a big stint of altitude training in Kenya. Mohamud holds an impressive Half Marathon personal best of 62:30.

In the women's contest, there are a number of athletes in with making a chance to punch their ticket to the Olympics. Stephanie Davies (Philip Kissi; Clapham Chasers), who ran 2:27.40 in Valencia in the same year, is one of four British women who currently hold the standard, and she will also line-up at the event. Lily Partridge (Birchfiled Harriers) will have the Olympics in her sights with a personal best of 2:29:24 which she ran in 2018. Another huge addition to this Women's field is Scottish runner Sarah Inglis (Lothian). Sarah's recent personal best of 2:29:41 is only 11 seconds outside the Olympic Standard, she ran this in December 2020! Adding to this already fantastic group of athletes in the Women's field is the 2020 Virgin Money Elite Marathon British Champion, Natasha Cockram (Tony Houchin, Micky Morris Racing Team). Natasha holds a personal best of 2:30:49.

In the 20km race walks, Tom Bosworth (Andi Drake; Tonbridge) headlines the men's contest and is currently the only British athlete who holds the standard (1:21:25) for Tokyo. Callum Wilkinson (Rob Heffernan; Enfield & Haringey), who showed great form in clocking 39:05.85 in the 10,000m race walk earlier this month, will be chasing the 1:21.00 World Athletics qualifying mark having clocked a PB of 1:21.21 in Lithuania last September.

Lining up for the Women, strong contestants are Welsh athletes Heather Lewis (Martin Bell, Pembrokeshire) and Bethan Davies (Andi Drake, Cardiff). Gemma Bridge (Oxford City) will also be among these Women chasing the Olympic Standard which is 1:31:35.

The first two placed eligible athletes in each individual trial event, who hold an Olympic qualifying standard, will earn automatic selection for Tokyo.

Action got underway from 6am with the men's and women's 20km race walks, while the men's and women's marathon races will start at 8am.

The race walks start and finish in front of Palm House taking in 12 small laps, while the marathon begins at Kew Palace and finishes at Palm House, including one small lap and 12 large laps. The courses can be viewed below.

Katie Brazier, Competitions and Events Director at British Athletics, said: "With just over a week until the Müller British Athletics Marathon and 20km Race Walk Trials, excitement is really building. Although the event will be held behind-closed-doors, we are delighted the race walks and the marathon will be streamed at so it can be enjoyed by viewers at home.

"Our thanks go to all the stakeholders involved in delivering this event under challenging circumstances."

Tom Bedford, Race Director of The Müller British Athletics Marathon and 20km Walk Trials and Richmond RUNFEST, said: "We cannot wait to witness these talented athletes race in the richly symbolic Kew Gardens. Each lap passes the Japanese Gardens, reminding them of what's at stake. Due to Covid, there will sadly be no spectators but we're delighted to bring a livestream and our social media channels will be providing in depth updates throughout the day.

This will be one of the most unique Marathon & Race Walk races in the world. Please join us for the live streaming of the event, and share with friends, because this event is going to be thrilling to watch."

British Athletics and Richmond RUNFEST continues to adhere closely to the Government's advice and Covid-19 guidelines to ensure the safety of all those involved in delivering and competing at events currently being staged.


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