Suffolk athlete Helen Davies could run trial race for Tokyo Olympics

Helen Davies, pictured with her medal after finishing first lady and third overall at the Stowmarket

Helen Davies, pictured with her medal after finishing first lady and third overall at the Stowmarket Half-Marathon on Sunday. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

Athletics writer Carl Marston talks to Suffolk’s international athlete Helen Davies about her future plans, in light of the recent postponement of the London Marathon

Helen Davies on her way to third overall and first lady at the Stowmarket Half-Marathon. Picture: DE

Helen Davies on her way to third overall and first lady at the Stowmarket Half-Marathon. Picture: DEAN REDNALL/STOWMARKET STRIDERS FACEBOOK - Credit: Archant

Suffolk’s leading female athlete, Helen Davies, might still run in a marathon trial for the Olympic Games, despite the recent postponement of next month’s London Marathon until early October.

Top-class long distance athlete Davies, of Ipswich JAFFA, who represented her country both at the European Championships (in Barcelona) and Commonwealth Games (in Delhi) during 2012, over the 26.2-mile marathon distance, has an outside chance of gaining selection for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, even though she is now in the over-40 veteran ranks.

An in-form Davies, who won a gold medal at the 50K Ultra World Championships in Rumania last August, is certainly capable of running the 2hrs 29mins qualifying time for the Tokyo Olympics, if indeed they will even take place this summer in the wake of the current Coronavirus outbreak.

To that end, she still might run in an Olympic trial race – British Athletics revealed yesterday that they are planning to stage a marathon trial, on a date between April 25 and 27 – despite the postponement of the London Marathon (the British trial for the Olympics were due to be incorporated in the annual London bonanza).

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“What happens going forward is a little bit up in the air,” explained Davies, who enjoyed a run-out at the Stowmarket Half-Marathon on Sunday.

“I’ve got to have some big discussions with the coach (Clive Sparkes) and my team, because basically what’s happened is that the London Marathon has been postponed until October 4.

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“There was a conference set for this week to discuss the fact that they are looking to put on a trials race, on the same weekend as London would have been (April 26). It will be something like a closed race. It will likely be on a Saturday or Sunday on a closed course, with a very limited number of people taking part.

“It would potentially be just the women who were on the elite start (for London), and the men that were on the elite start, probably all in one race.

“Initially I said ‘no, I’m not going to do the trials – that would be horrendous because even if I ran a 2:29 or 2:30 that still wouldn’t get me a selection for Tokyo.’

“But then Clive (Sparkes) said that I might as well go and do it. It will be a race and I will be able to get something down, and then I could still do the London Marathon in October.

“So I think there are some discussions to be had and I feel that, actually, having let the dust settle a bit and having a think about it, I might as well do it (any potential trials race). I can carry on training as I would, and follow the plan as I would.

“I would then have a crack at the trials. It will be what it will be. The fact of that 2:29 is the qualifying time for Tokyo, and I can potentially run a quick time, but there are potentially four or four women who can run 2:25, 2:26 or 2:27.

“We thought that the whole thing about London, with it being such a competitive race, was that I could pull a fast time out for myself. Whether or not I can pull a fast time out of myself when it’s just going to be just a select few runners, and without that kind of atmosphere, who knows?.

“It was going to be the 40th anniversary, and it was going to be my first time back on the London start-line since 2012. So that would have made for a great atmosphere.

“But I have nothing to lose. Even if I go along (to the trials), and it isn’t there for me, if it it’s a lapped course or something that doesn’t suit, and I drop out, I’ve still got London later in the year, which is the one I am targeting.

“I wanted to run a fast half- marathon anyway, either at Frankfurt or Amsterdam possibly, so that would be a fast half, and I’m looking potentially at doing the Valencia Marathon anyway, which I could probably turnaround from October to December,” added Davies.

Davies won the Stowmarket Half-Marathon title, in windswept conditions, in 1:15;31, having decided not to risk travelling down to the Bath Half-Marathon.

“I felt if I want along to Bath, and won it, then it might have been a bit tainted, and the win would have been controversial,” added Davies, because of the event still going ahead despite the Coronavirus outbreak.

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