Helen Davies enjoys Olympic boost
PUBLISHED: 11:53 05 March 2012
Helen Davies has a fighting chance of achieving the Olympic “A” qualifying standard for this summer’s London Games, after a sensational performance at the Tunbridge Wells Half-Marathon.
Fresh from a month’s altitude training in Kenya, the impressive Davies warmed up for the London Marathon by blitzing Liz Yelling’s course record over the 13.1-mile distance in Kent.
Ipswich JAFFA’s leading lady clocked a dazzling 1hr 12mins 40secs at Tunbridge Wells, so slicing more than a minute off international runner Yelling’s course best of 1.13.58. It was a massive personal best and a club record.
Formerly known as Helen Decker, before marrying long-term partner Gavin Davies last November, himself a leading light of JAFFA, the 32-year-old is still unlikely to be selected for Great Britain’s marathon team at this summer’s Olympics.
And that’s not because she is unlikely to achieve the qualifying time – her superb effort on Sunday suggests she could indeed run the required 2hrs 31mins in London – but because the competition is so fierce to be in the final three.
Paula Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi have already been selected, while Jo Pavey boasts a best time of 2.28.23 from London last year and so is in pole position to take up the final place.
But Davies is on course to blitz her own marathon PB of 2.35.43 at London, and so perhaps be named as one of the reserves for the Olympics.
“I still can’t believe that I ran that time!” enthused Davies.
“I had only come back from four weeks of altitude training (in Iten, Kenya) last Thursday, so I didn’t really know what to expect.
“I knew that I was going better than last year, both with the volume and intensity of the training, but everything feels so hard over there, with the altitude and the hills, so it’s always difficult to judge your own fitness.
“However, I absolutely flew the first four miles at Tunbridge Wells, and my last mile of 5.03 was a time that I had never even run while doing one-mile reps in training!” added Davies, whose previous best for the half-marathon was 1.14.04 on a flat course at Reading last year.
In terms of her chances of running at the Olympics, Decker remains a realist.
“That doesn’t look very likely, although I could get myself in the frame by running sub-2.31 at London and perhaps being amongst the reserves,” explained Davies.
“You never know with marathon training. Anyone can pick up an injury, so my best chance is to be in the reserve squad.
“But to just run the “A” standard for the marathon in an Olympic year would be a great achievement. If there are better runners out there than me, then so be it.”
Davies has already represented her country at major championships, having competed at the Commonwealth Games (Delhi) and European Championships (Barcelona), both in 2010.