Capital joy as Sunderland Stroller seals Rio Olympics place in style

Sunderland Stroller Alyson Dixon booked her flight for the Rio Olympics after her storming run in the Virgin Money London Marathon yesterday.

Monday, 25th April 2016, 7:00 am
Aly Dixon (left) and Sonia Samuels celebrate clinching places in the British team for the Rio Olympic Games marathon, following yesterday's Virgin Money London Marathon

She earned her place by beating all her fellow Brits in 13th overall in 2hr 31min 52sec, but the time was not important as she had already ducked under the 2.31.00 qualifying time with her personal best of 2.29.30 set in Berlin last September.

She had to battle up the Mall with former Wallsend Harrier Sonia Samuels, who clocked a faster time in Berlin with 2.28.04, but it was the gritty Dixon that proved the stronger this time, finishing eight seconds ahead of the Sale Harrier.

A jubilant Dixon, 37, said: “I just did everything right today.

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“At about 20 miles, I passed some of my club-mates and they give me a big shout.

“It inspired me to put in a good hard mile. I knew then, even though my legs were cramping a little, things were going well.

“I’d have settled for second, but it was nice to finish first Briton. I’ve been dreaming of this opportunity for a long time.

“It has been 20 years of hard work. It is incredible, absolutely amazing and a dream come true.’’

There were five women in contention for the two places for Rio up for grabs in London.

Both Dixon and Samuels managed to drop Susan Partridge and Dixon’s former clubmate at Chester-le-Street AC, Freya Ross, at around halfway. Charlotte Purdue, making her marathon debut, stuck with them until 20 miles before having to give way

Samuels, who is also selected, said: “Alyson got a bit of a gap on me in the final mile, but I knew I didn’t have to push it too much. In my head, it was job done.”

Purdue, who was third Briton home in 2:32:48, must wait for the British Athletics team announcement tomorrow to see if she has been selected.

Chester-le Street’s Ian Bloomfield chasing the single age World best for a 63-year-old of 2:46:26, came mighty close to beating it, clocking 2.49.02. But he received some consolation as he won the over-60 category.

Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge successfully defended his 2015 title, gaining a course record, and the second fastest time in history, just eight seconds off the world record.

Fellow Kenyan Jemima Sumgong won the elite women’s race, having earlier hit her head in a heavy fall.