Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany won the men’s and women’s races at the 32nd London Marathon yesterday. The two Kenyan athletes are now favourites to win gold at this summer’s Olympics, with Keitany finishing in 2:18:37 making her the third fastest female of all time. Kipsang finished in 2:04:44 just seconds outside the world record time.
But the British interest laid with the battle for the third and final remaining Olympic selection spot. Claire Hallissey is now likely to be selected after she was the first Brit home, finishing in 11th place, in a time of 2:27:44. Paula Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi had already secured their places and this afternoon the final spot will be announced by selectors.
Fellow Brit Jo Pavey took the decision to rely on her time of 2:28:24 from last year’s marathon, and a strong performance in New York, and watched the race from home, hoping no one would better her time. But it’s now likely she will concentrate on her 10,000m event and aim to qualify for London 2012 in that event.
Hallissey currently lives and trains in the US and if selected will make her first Olympic appearance in London. “I’m keeping my fingers crossed,” Hallissey told BBC Radio 5 live. “It would be fantastic (to qualify for London 2012). The home Olympics is the chance of a lifetime.
“I knew we were on target (but) it wasn’t until I got to the clock with 800m to go that I knew for certain.
“I was running as fast as I could, so it was not worth the effort working out what time to go for.”
Freya Murray was the next Brit home, recording 2:28:10 on her marathon debut and finishing 13th. Louise Damen, finished 16th in 2:31:37, and Liz Yelling, who had been bidding to secure a third consecutive Olympic appearance, finished in 26th place in 2:40:08.
In the wheelchair race Britain’s Shelly Woods finished almost three minutes ahead of Japan’s Wakako Tsuchida to take the gold medal spot.
“I’m really happy,” Woods told BBC Radio 5 live. “I can’t believe it.
“To win a Paralympic gold medal is my ambition as an athlete. If I could do it in London would be amazing. I wouldn’t say I’m now favourite for a Paralympic gold but that’s the ambition in my career.”
Louise Hudson, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine