British athlete Charlotte Purdue was left off the Olympic marathon team after UK Athletics reportedly cited false information about her at the selection meeting
Last week, UK Athletics announced that Steph Davis, Jess Piasecki and Steph Twell, would be representing Team GB at this year’s Olympic marathon event in Tokyo, leaving some athletics fans surprised not to see Charlotte Purdue’s name in the list.
Purdue’s name has been part of the Tokyo marathon conversation since she ran an impressive 2:25:38 at the 2019 London Marathon, making her the second-fastest British marathoner in the country currently. Following an injury at the start of 2021, she was advised to take six weeks off training and to sit out the Olympic trials, where Natasha Cockram, Lily Partridge and Steph Davis all competed for a place on the team.
As the trial winner Steph Davis took a place, along with Jess Piasecki who has the current fastest time and, somewhat surprisingly, Steph Twell whose personal best is 2:26:40 – over a minute slower than Purdue’s.
It was widely reported that Purdue, 29, had appealed UK Athletics’ decision, and it now appears that her appeal has been rejected.
In an interview with Athletics Illustrated last week, she opened up about her experience and said she felt “thrown under the bus” by British Athletics. She explained that, as one of three runners sat out of the trials, and with the second-fastest time among them, she expected to take the third spot on the team and head to Tokyo this summer.
“They picked someone with a time that was slower than myself and who also has no [marathon] championship experience. It felt like it was very unfair,” she said.
She explained her surprise when she was told she hadn’t made the Olympic team, and that when she saw the selection committee’s meeting notes they had cited false information about her current training, suggesting that she was only doing 30 minutes of easy running a week, when last week she documented on her Instagram that she had run 83 miles and was on track for her usual training.
“In the meeting […] someone had said I was 8 weeks away from full training, when in fact my coach sent an email to the selection committee a week before and told them about my training,” she told Athletics Illustrated. “Wrong information was given at the meeting [and] they’re not basing their selection on fact.”
She was told by UK Athletics that she had not been selected on medical grounds, but Purdue labelled this a “poor excuse” as her injury has healed and she’s back to tough training again.
In fact, Purdue states that she followed advice given to her British Athletics doctors, taking six weeks off for rehabilitation post injury and missing the trials to get in good shape for the summer Olympics.
“I was led to believe that if I followed their medical advice it would get me ready for Tokyo. I even have messages on my phone from the medical staff saying that they want me to miss the trials to be in shape for Tokyo.”
She also stated that in a Zoom call with the head of British Athletics it had been agreed that it would be a mistake for her to run in the trials if she wanted to be ready to run at the Olympics, discussing “getting ready for summer” and “not rushing back” for the trials.
She told her Instagram following that she felt “let down” by British Athletics and thanked her supporters. She continues to receive strong support on her social media platforms.
Purdue confirmed that she is seeking legal action: “Someone from the British Athlete Commission put me in contact with a lawyer [who] is looking over the case, the meeting notes and my evidence.”
She also explained in the Athletics Illustrated interview that she hadn’t spoken to the other marathons picked for the team – “It’s a bit awkward” – but that she had nothing against them and all her anger was directed at British Athletics.
She posted on Instagram yesterday that she was “fired up like never before” and is now focussing her attention on the London Marathon and next year’s championship events.