Merrien gets third London 2012 Team GB marathon spot following Facebook campaign

Saturday, 28 April 2012
By Mike Rowbottom

Lee Merrien_27-04-12April 28 - Lee Merrien, who finished Sunday's (April 22) Virgin London Marathon in disappointment having missed the UK Athletics Olympic A qualifying mark of 2 hours 12min despite running a personal best of 2 hours 13min 41sec, learned today that he will after all be offered the third Team GB spot at London 2012.

The decision by the UK Athletics selection panel, who had initially rejected Merrien's (pictured above and below) appeal, was reached on the basis of "special circumstances" and will be welcome news to all those – almost 3,000 at the last view – who endorsed a "Select Lee Merrien" Facebook campaign.

Merrien, who turned 34 on Tuesday (April 24), said: "I am absolutely delighted to have been selected and I'd like to thank the selection panel for recognising the nature of my run at the weekend.

"I am now on a short rest break with my family and then I will resume training as I aim to put in my best ever performance in London".

The Guernsey athlete, who is coached by former international 10,000 metre runner John Nuttall, was originally not selected despite being the first Briton home in 14th a time which, although it was outside the UK Athletics A standard, was nevertheless within the standard of 2:15:00 set by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

With Scott Overall already selected, having run 2:10:55 on his debut in Berlin last October, the only addition to the men's team in the wake of the marathon was Dave Webb, whose best time is 2:15:48 but who qualified by dint of the fact that he ran it to earn 15th place at last year's IAAF World Championships in Daegu – with UK Athletics deciding that a top 20 World Championship finish would be equivalent to their A standard time of 2:12:00.

Merrien finished 22nd in Daegu.

Lee Merrien_27-04-121
Among those who added their support was the man who held the British 10,000m record before Mo Farah, Jon Brown, fourth in the Olympic marathons of Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 and a man never noted for being mealy-mouthed.

"I do think Lee Merrien's run merits selection," he said.

"Running another PB in the selection race in less than ideal conditions should be appreciated."

The British Olympic Association (BOA), which has ratified the UK Athletics nomination, said in a release that Merrien had appealed "through the formal UK Athletics appeal process", adding: "His appeal was unsuccessful.

"However the Selection Panel was asked to reconsider if exceptional circumstances existed, as it could under the policy.

"The UKA Selection Panel therefore reconvened and following consideration of all relevant facts and using its expert opinion, exercised its discretion to nominate Lee Merrien to the BOA."

To read Mike Rowbottom: Team GB's latest Olympic marathon selection is a case of the more the Merrien click here.

Contact the writer of this story at mike.rowbottom@insidethegames.biz


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