The first seven members of the athletics team have been nominated to the British Olympic Association to represent Team GB in Tokyo this summer.
Marathon runner Chris Thompson, age 39, and racewalker Stephanie Davis, 30, secured their spots for Tokyo after victories at the Müller British Athletics Marathon and 20km Walk Trial at Kew Gardens last week.
For Thompson, who became a Dad for the first time a few days prior to the trials, it capped a whirlwind few days as he achieved a new personal best, completing the course in two hours, ten minutes, and fifty-two seconds, which doubled as an Olympic Games qualifying standard. Ben Connor, 28, also booked his seat on the plane after finishing second, having set the qualifying standard in 2020. Connor just needed to finish top-three.
They will join Scotland’s Callum Hawkins, 28, who had gained pre-selection in December 2019 and demonstrated current form and fitness having acted as a pacemaker at Friday’s trial.
Stephanie Davis, who ran her first marathon only three years ago, ran inside the qualifying standard in Valencia in 2019, and her performance at Kew Gardens will see her compete for Great Britain and Northern Ireland for the first time.
Jess Piasecki, 30, and Steph Twell, 31, will also join Davis in the women’s marathon in Sapporo. The marathon and racewalk events were moved 800K north of Tokyo to Sapporo to avoid potential excessive heat. This decision was made after the 2019 Doha World Athletics Championships debacle.
Piasecki clocked a time of 2:25:28 at the 2019 Florence Marathon, while Twell clocked a marathon PB of 2:26:40 in Frankfurt in the same year. It will be Twell’s third Olympic Games having made her debut in the 1500m in 2008 just a few days after her 19th birthday.
Kew Gardens also played host to the British Athletics 20km race walk trials which saw Tom Bosworth, 31, finish second to secure his qualification for Tokyo having already achieved the qualifying standard at the 2019 European Race Walking Cup when he posted a time of 1:20:53. Tokyo will be Bosworth’s second Olympic Games having finished sixth in Rio.
“It is a great privilege to be able to welcome the first seven members of the athletics squad for Tokyo into Team GB,” said Mark England, Team GB’s Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020.
“It was clear from watching the coverage of the qualifying event last week, and seeing the emotion felt by each athlete as they crossed the finish line, just how much this selection means to them. The hard work and dedication that goes into securing Olympic qualification is admirable, especially in a year that has come with so many challenges.
“I’d like to congratulate everyone on their fantastic achievements, and we look forward to welcoming them to Tokyo this summer.”
UK Athletics Performance Director and Team GB Athletics Team Leader for Tokyo 2020, Sara Symington, added, “We are really pleased to be announcing the first seven members of the athletics team for the Tokyo Olympic Games. I want to congratulate all the athletes on their selection. It is a significant milestone in their careers, and a proud moment for them, their coaches and support teams, family, and friends.
“Focus now turns to making sure that they are prepared for that start line in Sapporo, so we will be supporting the athletes to achieve their goals at the Games.”
Selection is subject to the appeals process, with the rest of the athletics team due to be announced over the coming months.
Marathon and race walk join canoeing, sailing, sport climbing, triathlon and shooting as the first sports to announce the athletes selected to Team GB for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which will take place from 23 July to 8 August 2021.
Selected marathon athletes:
Stephanie Davis (Phillip Kissi; Clapham Chasers)
Jess Piasecki (Robert Hawkins; Stockport)
Steph Twell (Aldershot Farnham & District)
Ben Connor (Derby)
Callum Hawkins (Robert Hawkins; Kilbarchan)
Chris Thompson (Alan Storey; Aldershot Farnham & District)
Selected 20km race walk athletes:
Tom Bosworth (Andi Drake; Tonbridge)