Charlotte Purdue feels running for Team GB ‘tainted’ after Olympics snub

  • Purdue was expected to get UK Athletics pick for Japan
  • ‘It’s an honour to run for GB but I won’t forget this whole year’

Charlotte Purdue, one of Britain’s top marathon runners, says her desire to represent her country has been “tainted” after she was controversially left out of the Tokyo Olympics.

The 30-year-old, who is in bullishly impressive form before Sunday’s London Marathon, was expected to get one of the two discretionary UK Athletics picks for Japan after being given a medical exemption to miss the Olympic trials in March through injury.

However, Purdue says that UKA’s three-person selection panel then received incorrect information about the progress of her recovery from a UKA doctor and, as a result, did not select her for Tokyo.

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“There were a few things I raised about the whole selection process and some things that were said in the meeting which obviously were not true and I was able to prove they weren’t true,” said Purdue, who was the first Briton home at the London Marathon in 2019, where she ran a personal best of 2:25:38.

“I had a conversation with the UK Athletics doctor a couple of weeks before the trials and the meeting, and I told him the training I was doing,” she added. “And in the meeting they said I wasn’t doing that sort of training, and I was only running 30 minutes a day which was untrue.”

Purdue said she had raised the issue with the UKA chief executive, Jo Coates, who responded by saying that they would look into it. UKA did not comment when asked about the situation with Purdue, but it rarely does on selection matters.

However, when Purdue was asked whether she would feel comfortable running for Britain at a major championship after all this, she was blunt, replying: “It’s definitely tainted my desire.

“Obviously it is an honour to run for Great Britain but I won’t forget about this whole year and situation,” she added. “I was gutted because I’d been thinking about Tokyo for so long.”

Now Purdue has set her sights on proving the selectors wrong – starting with a plan to beat Mara Yamauchi’s best of 2:23:12 on Sunday, which would move her to No 2 on the UK all-time list behind Paula Radcliffe.

Being the first Briton home in under 2:29:30 would also guarantee her place in the world championships in Eugene next year. But she is certainly not taking anything for granted.

Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei has played down the chances of a course record in London
Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei has played down the chances of a course record in London. Photograph: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

“If this year has taught me anything, it’s not to pay attention to selection policies because they don’t really mean anything,” she said. “They’ll select who they want anyway. So I’m just focusing on the race on Sunday.”

When asked what pace she’ll be aiming to run, Purdue said: “It’s very weather dependent. I’ve got that 2:23 in my head of Mara’s, but I’ll have to make the call with my coach.”

While the weather on Sunday is likely to be drier than initially forecast there is still concern among the elite athletes that the expected high winds will make it a much slower race than they would like. But Purdue is optimistic.

“Two years ago I got a massive PB and that was a really good day so a repeat of that would be nice. Training had gone well before that race so I was obviously excited to run then and now on Sunday as well.”

It helps that Purdue’s form in recent months has also been excellent with victory in the Vitality Big Half in August, in a course record of 69:51, followed by third in the Great North Run in a 68:49 despite being in heavy marathon training. “I feel like I just want to get back to my best, really,” she said. “Like in 2019 when I was running really well.

“But I do feel like I did deserve a space on that team,” she added. “I could have run well in Tokyo but hopefully I’ll run well on Sunday instead.”

Meanwhile the Kenyan world record-holder, Brigid Kosgei, who is looking to become only the second person after Germany’s Katrin Dörre-Heinig between 1992 and 1994 to win three successive London Marathons in the women’s race, has played down the prospect of a course record.

Kosgei pointed out that she ran in the Olympics only eight weeks ago and so it wouldn’t be possible to be at her best. “I love London so I would really like to do that here,” she said. “I am ready as I have prepared well as I want to defend my title.”


Sean Ingle

The GuardianTramp

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