Controversy surrounds the men’s selections.
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Britain’s Claire Hallissey and Dave Webb have been officially selected to compete in the London Olympic Games, the British Olympic Association announced yesterday afternoon. The two athletes bring the British Olympic Marathon squad up to five members; Paula Radcliffe, Mara Yamauchi and Scott Overall had previously been selected.
“I am delighted to welcome Claire and Dave to Team GB to make their Olympic debuts in London,” said Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt in a statement. ”The group of five Team GB marathon athletes now includes an excellent blend of up-and-coming runners with greatly experienced athletes, led by five-time Olympian Paula Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi, who finished sixth at the last Olympics.”
Hallissey’s choice is not controversial, but Webb’s is. Hallissey, 29, a self-coached athlete who has a PhD in immunology, ran last Sunday’s Virgin London Marathon, finishing 11th overall in a personal best 2:27:44. She was the fastest British woman on the day, beating marathon debutante Freya Murray who finished 13th in 2:28:10. Both Hallissey and Murray surpassed the 2011 Virgin London Marathon time of Jo Pavey (2:28:24), who had provisionally held the third spot on the team. Pavey, 38, a three-time Olympian, said she will now turn her attention to gaining selection for Team GB in the 10,000m.
“I’m absolutely thrilled, I think it’s still sinking in,” Hallissey said. ”I’m very, very happy. It’s a dream come true, it’s what you aspire to getting on to an Olympic team.”
Webb, 30, who only has a modest personal best of 2:15:42 and did not run last Sunday’s marathon in London, gained selection through an unusual set of events. He competed for the British team in the marathon at the IAAF World Championships last summer in Daegu, Korea. On a steamy day, he finished 15th in 2:15:48. Although that time was not inside either the IAAF “A” standard of 2:15:00 or the U.K. Athletics tougher “A” standard of 2:12:00, Webb was awarded an “A” standard time because under IAAF rules a top-20 finish at the World Championships marathon is an “A” standard mark. Webb was selected over Lee Merrien who ran a personal best 2:13:41 in London last Sunday.
Under IAAF rules, any nation can field a full three-athlete marathon team if at least two athletes have the IAAF “A” standard. While Overall (2:10:55) and Webb (by virtue of of his top-20 finish at Daegu) and Merrien all have the “A” standard, British selectors did not include Merrien in the team because he had not met the tougher British “A” standard of 2:12:00. Fans registered their displeasure on the teamgb.com website, which is run by the British Olympic Association.
“Lee Merrien should join Overall and Webb to fill the team,” wrote a fan identified only as BODDERS. “What is the point of holding a home Olympics and banging on about inspiring a generation when a high calibre, hard-working athlete such as Lee is denied a place on the team? If UKA are sitting on this decision then they best hurry and pick Lee before they enrage an already disgruntled nation!”