Tokyo 2020ne Olympics – Athletics Preview

21 July 2021 - By Scott Darney

The 5 year wait is over and the Olympics finally kick offs on Friday with the opening ceromony.

With athletics being a big part of the schedule, I thought I would preview the endurance events from 1500m up to the Marathon and the GB athletes hoping to win medals for our nation.

We have also had a small insight into how some of these endurance athletes train with our summer schedule from 2020 which included sessions from   Eilish McColgan, Laura Muir and Jake Wightman who have all qualified for team GB.

Read on for a preview of the endurance events at this years Summer Olympics:



Women:    Laura Muir (3:55.2), Katie Snowden (4:02.98)

Men:          Jake Wightman (3:29.47), Josh Kerr (3:31.55), Jake Heyward (3:33.99)


Women:     Heats – 2nd Aug / Semi Finals – 4th Aug / Final – 1.50pm, 6th Aug

Men:           Heats – 3rd Aug / Semi Finals – 5th Aug / Final – 12.40pm, 7th Aug


Laura Muir gets the British Athletics team underway alongside Katie Snowden and is one of Britain’s real medal hopes for the games.  Having been selected for both the 800m and 1500m she has since decided concentrate on just the 1500m.  Within days of her decision she won the 800m in the Monaco Diamond League meet with a new Scottish record which suggests that she is coming into form at just the right time.

Team GB have 3 male representatives in the 1500m all hoping to clinch a medal with WRC favourite Jake Wightman leading the trio as the 2nd fastest British 1500m runner behind only Sir Mo Farah.  Both Josh Kerr and Jake Heyward have run faster than him this year but the 1500m is as much a tactical race as it is about speed and endurance which means that anything can happen and one them could come home with a medal.




Women:    Eilish McColgan (14:28), Jess Judd (15:06), Amy Eloise-Markovc (15:05)

Men:          Marc Scott (13:05), Andrew Butchart (13:06)


Women:    Semi Final – 30th Jul / Final – 1.40pm, 2nd Aug

Men:          Semi Final – 3rd Aug / Final – 1.00pm, 6th Aug


Former Chelmsford AC athlete and Essex Cross Country Champion Jess Judd won the British 5000m title to auto-qualify for her first Olympics alongside another WRC favourite Eilish McColgan and Amy Eloise-Markovc.  Eilish will head to Tokyo fresh from breaking the British 5000m record formerly held by Paul Radcliffe which puts her over 30 seconds faster than her british rivals and with a potential chance of a medal if she makes the final and the race goes her way.

Andrew Butchart runs in his 2nd Olympics after narrowly avoiding a ban for his Covid test controversy for the British Champs.  If he can improve on his 6th place in Rio in 2016 then he will be happy consideting the strong field.  Bowerman Track Club athlete Marc Scott makes his Olympic debut having secured the road 5k british record on the road last year and will hope he has hit some form at just the right time.



Women:    Eilish McColgan (30:59), Jess Judd (31:21)

Men:          Marc Scott (27:10), Sam Atkin (27:27)


Women:    Final – 11:45am, 7th Aug

Men:          Final – 12:30pm, 30th Jul


Jess Judd is making the most of her Olympic debut by doubling up the 5000m with the 10000m alongside Eilish McColgan who will also compete over both distances.   It’s going to be a tough ask to medal in one of these events let alone 2 but with the weather likely to be quite hot in Tokyo, we might not see any racing until the last few laps and both girls have been racing as short as 1500m recently so they will hope that they can finish fast!  Coincidentally, it is exactly 30 years since Eilish’s McColgan’s mum (Liz) won the 10000m Gold Medal in the 1991 World Championships, also in Tokyo.

Marc Scott leads the way for GB as the current 10000m British Champion and is another athlete attempting to emulate Mo with the 5000m / 10000m double.  Sam Atkin earned his qualification after no GB athletes went under the qualifying time in the British Champs and Olympic Trials having already achieve his QT of 27:27 in December.  For either athlete to medal would be a great achievement.



Women:    Jess Piasecki (2:25:28), Steph Twell (2:26:40), Steph Davis (2:27:16)

Men:          Callum Hawkins (2:08:14), Chris Thompson (2:10:52), Ben Connor (2:11:20)


Women:     11pm, 6th Aug

Men:           11pm, 7th Aug


Steph Davis was the first to auto-qualify having won the British trials in March with an impressive run and PB of 2:27:16 but the run suggested there is more to come from Steph so whilst she has the slowest PB of the 3, she’ll be right alongside her team mates.  Jess Piasecki ran 2:25:28 to win Florence Marathon in 2019 and became the third fastest all-time GB female marathoner in the process and this performance obviously impressed the selction committee.  Steph Twell was the 3rd selection presumably as her qualifying time of 2:26:40 was more recent than Charlotte Purdue’s qualifying time of 2:25:38 but it just goes to show that if you don’t run the trials there is no gaunrantee of selection.

Callum Hawkins is the only marathoner to be pre-selected for the Olympics and only had to pace the trials to prove his fitness for selection.  He has shown in the World Championships in 2017 that in a real race, he is a contender and Olympics will be very much a race and not a time trial.  Ben Connor impressively achieved the qualifying time in his marathon debut and will compete in his first Olympics.  The mens trials however, were won with a perfectly paced run from Chris Thompson who head into his first Olympics at 40 years old.  He defied expectations at the trials and what is to say he can’t cause an upset at the Olympics too?  What a story that would be!


Whilst we all want the GB Athletes to do well, there are a few stand out athletes who are also worth looking out for at the games this year:

Non-GB Athletes to Watch:

Sifan Hassan – Netherlands (1500m, 5000m & 10000m)

Yes that’s right, Sifan Hassan is currently listed to compete over 3 distances at this years Olympics having showed incredible range to win the 1500m and 1000m Gold in the 2019 World Championships – the first athlete to achieve this, male or female, at a single World Championship or Olympic Games event.  Such is her speed over 2 events which demand very different type of fitness that it has lead to the usual scepticism which wasn’t helped by the fact that she was coaches by Alberto Salazer who is now serving a coaching ban.  I’ll let you all make your minds up about that though!


Joshua Cheptegei – Uganda (5000m & 10000m)

At just 24 years old, Cheptegie is only just getting started but what a start to his career!  Last year he broke Kenesia Bekele’s long standing 5000m and 10000m world records which had stood for 16 and 15 years respectively, when he ran 12:35 in Monaco (August) and 26:11 over 10000m in Valencia (October).  He also has a Commonwealth Games Gold double from 2018 in the 5000m and 10000m and will be strong favourite to repeat the feat in Tokyo.


Eliud Kipchoge – Kenya (Marathon)

There might finally be some question marks after his below par 2:06:49 in London last October but that is likely to be a blip for the current World Record holder and 1:59 man, who’s worst result before this was 2nd to Wilson Kipsangs world record in 2013.  Besides London 2020 and Berlin 2013, Kipchoge has won 13 marathons including the Olympic Marathon in 2016.  Few would bet against him picking up his 2nd Olympic Gold Medal in Tokyo.



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