Alyson Dixon in action at the London Marathon (© Getty Images)
With 100 days to go until the IAAF World Championships London 2017, British Athletics has today confirmed its selections for the men’s and women’s marathon and the men’s 50km race walk.
It is only the third time in history that British Athletics has selected three men and three women to compete in the marathon at a World Championships. Meanwhile, Dominic King becomes the first 50km race walker in 22 years to represent Britain at a World Championships.
The previously unheralded Josh Griffiths will represent Britain for the first time at the World Championships. Griffiths made headline news at last weekend’s London Marathon after starting the race as a club runner and clocking 2:14:49 to place 13th overall, finishing ahead of all the British athletes in the elite field.
“The goal for me was to try to run the Welsh standard for the Commonwealth Games of 2:16:00,” said Griffiths. “Obviously that is the same time as the qualifier for the World Championships, but to come in the first two British athletes and qualify for the World Championships is just something that never crossed my mind at all – I can’t believe it.”
Griffiths will be joined on the British team by Robbie Simpson, the second Briton past the line in London last weekend, and Olympian Callum Hawkins.
“It has been a goal of mine and I am really happy to have made the team,” said Simpson. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I don’t think a lot of people expected me to make the team, and maybe I didn’t think I could but I knew if I ran a good tactical race (at the London Marathon), I would have a chance.”
Hawkins was the first athlete confirmed to represent Britain at the World Championships after being pre-selected for the marathon in December last year. The 24-year-old finished ninth in the marathon at last year’s Olympic Games.
Alyson Dixon is another Olympian who will represent the host nation in London. “I got my first major British vest back in 2011 at the Daegu World Championships,” said Dixon, who was the top British woman in London last weekend, running a PB of 2:29:06. “I think I’ve got some unfinished business, as I went into those championships with what turned out to be three broken bones in my foot and totally underperformed as a result.
“Since then I’ve improved by six or seven minutes, so I’m really looking forward to getting out there in London to try and give it a really strong run. I’d love to go sub-2:28, but just to be in the UK and competing at a home World Championships will be fantastic and I’m really looking forward to standing on start line with Charlotte [Purdue] alongside me.”
Purdue finished just 17 seconds behind Dixon on Sunday, setting a PB of 2:29:23 to secure her spot on the team. Tracy Barlow was the third British woman home, clocking a 2:30:42.
“I’m really excited for the World Championships,” said Purdue, the 2010 European junior cross-country champion. “It’s a marathon, so obviously it will be tough both physically and mentally, but I’m hoping that the added element of it being here in London will hopefully spur me on too.”
“It’s going to be such an honour to represent the British team on home turf,” added Barlow, who will be making her major championships debut. “The support will be immense.”
Set against some of the capital’s most historically significant and picturesque backdrops, both marathons will be held on Sunday 6 August, with the route starting and finishing at Tower Bridge in central London.
Taking place on Sunday 13 August, the 50km race walk will be staged along The Mall on a two-kilometre loop between Buckingham Palace and Admiralty Arch. The event is free to spectators.
“We are delighted to confirm that we have selected the maximum number of marathon runners for the World Championships in London,” said performance director Neil Black. “To have six marathon runners racing on the World Championship course through the heart of London and Dominic King competing in the 50km race walk on The Mall will be a fantastic sight for British athletics fans.
“But we’re not just picking these athletes to make up the numbers,” he added. “Even though he is young for this event, Callum has already proven he is a true world-class marathoner and Josh stunned the world with his 13th place this past weekend. I expect all of these athletes to produce very competitive performances this summer, especially with the support of a home crowd behind them.”
The full British team for the IAAF World Championships London 2017 will be announced on 11 July with an additional announcement for events with unfilled places or available home nation slots made on 25 July.
British selections for the IAAF World Championships London 2017
Marathon: Josh Griffiths, Callum Hawkins, Robbie Simpson
50km race walk: Dominic King
Marathon: Tracy Barlow, Alyson Dixon, Charlotte Purdue