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Posts Tagged ‘early selection’

We’re talking Olympics 2012. Of course we are.

The early selection conundrum. Where do you go with it? UKA have made it clear what the A-standards are that need to be achieved, but they have not made it clear as to how they will assess those performances for selecting the team, and particularly for the early selecting that will take place and that has recently taken place.

Looking at the women for the moment.

The first wave of selections have just taken place. The winners are obviously Paula and Mara who got selected. But it closes the door just that little bit on all remaining candidates. There is now only one spot available. Jo Pavey, Liz Yelling, Claire Hallisey, Louise Damen and possibly some others I’ve forgotten about are all fighting for that one spot.

Spare a thought especially for Jo, who has run 2:28 twice this year, including on the acknowledged tougher course of the New York Marathon. The difference between her and Mara must have been marginal. Mara has the better pedigree (2:23 and a 6th place in the previous Olympic Marathon) but she has struggled for the past year or two. I don’t think she would dispute that. By contrast Jo has had a great year since her return from having a baby.

Clearly the selectors couldn’t have pre-selected all three athletes in the early window as that literally would have shut out any potential candidates who had lined up an early 2012 marathon to qualify.

Paula’s selection is beyond debate. With her pedigree and critically with her current form, a 2:23 in Berlin, she should have been inked into the team sheet at the first opportunity. Mara has the pedigree but not the form. Or rather, not the form that is significantly better than Jo’s. indeed Jo’s 2:28 in New York could be argued to be the better mark. But then it does start to get subjective. Which is sort of the point. It’s a close call, so why make it now?

But they did and Jo gets the short straw and now needs to decide what to do. Surely a third marathon in a 12-month period would be a tall order, especially considering that if it went well it would lead to a FOURTH and the most important of all, the Olympic Marathon, a few months after that. Yet that is effectively what she is being told she has to do. I have nothing against Mara, I’m a big fan, as we all should be. She is a great runner and a great advert for British running, as a person and as an athlete. But the fact remains that of Jo is being asked for a third indicator of form, perhaps she should have been asked for a second. Doing that would also give the remaining 5 or 6 athletes mentioned earlier, slightly more encouragement as two of the spots would theoretically still be up for grabs.

London Marathon announced their elite women’s field for 2012 a few days ago, and notably, Jo’s name was absent. This could mean a number of things of course. She could be thinking about a different marathon, she could simply have not yet confirmed to London, indeed she could have packed it all in. But in a world of conspiracy theories and armchair experts (guilty) surely the noticeable absence of her name from the entry list could be read as a reaction to the snub of not being selected early, or of selecting Mara early. If the selectors want to keep her guessing as to her fate, then this could be her way of keeping them guessing as to her intentions.

Unfortunately in these situations, there is only one losing side and it is always the same side.

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