May 16, 2021

Charlotte Purdue: British marathon runner feels ‘thrown under a bus’ over Tokyo non-selection

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Charlotte Purdue
Charlotte Purdue was the first British finisher at the 2019 London Marathon

Marathon runner Charlotte Purdue says she feels “thrown under a bus” by UK Athletics (UKA) over her omission from Great Britain’s Tokyo Olympics squad.

On the advice on a UKA doctor Purdue, 29, sat out the Olympic trials last month because of an injury.

She achieved the qualifying time at the 2019 London Marathon – but has not been selected for Tokyo on medical grounds.

Purdue claims information cited at the selection hearing was false. UKA has declined to comment.

“I was led to believe that I would go because I’d gone along with everything they told me to do,” Purdue told the BBC.

“I actually took longer off than I wanted to due to the fact they led me to believe with the medical exemption, I would gain selection.

“I feel completely like I have been thrown under a bus.”

Only one athlete, Stephanie Davis, ran the qualification time of two hours 29 minutes and 30 seconds at the British trials at Kew Gardens in March.

Purdue ran a personal best two hours 25 minutes and 38 seconds in 2019, but Jess Piasecki and Steph Twell, who also missed the trials, were preferred for the Tokyo squad.

Piasecki clocked a time of two hours, 25 minutes and 28 seconds in Florence in 2019, but Twell’s marathon personal best is one minute and two seconds slower than Purdue’s.

Purdue says selection meeting notes gained through a subsequent appeal, which has also been rejected, incorrectly said she was “only running for 30 minutes” and is “eight weeks away from full training”.

“Last week I ran 83 miles and at the time of the meeting I was running 75 minutes doing 6x1km sessions,” she said.

“My coach provided that in an email to the selection meeting, so it just makes me really angry that the information wasn’t relayed correctly and this ultimately left me not being selected for the Olympics.”

Purdue is awaiting the written reasons as to why her appeal was rejected.

She says the appeal had been lodged when the team for Tokyo was officially announced on 1 April, adding the process has been “unfair” and “hasn’t been handled very well”.

Purdue said: “I haven’t been enjoying running and training this week because of this whole situation, but I just want to get out, enjoy running, do what I do and focus on something else now – even though part of me still wants to fight for an Olympic spot, the other half of me is just like ‘I just want to run’.

“It feels like I am fighting a losing battle based on the fact I feel like my appeal was never going to be successful from the moment I was writing it.

“It just feels really demoralising to be fighting against something that, either way I look at it, I just feel I am going to lose.

“I have valid reasons for my appeal. The information given about me was incorrect and I have proof of that from the doctor, emails from my coach, I spoke to people on the phone, medical information I have got.

“It has not been relayed correctly, I don’t know by who, but I don’t know what more I can do about it.”