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Schlumpf seals Olympic ticket after Swiss marathon record of 2:26:14 in Belp

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European 3000m steeplechase silver medallist Fabienne Schlumpf set a Swiss marathon record on her debut at the distance in the rescheduled elite-only Belp Marathon on Saturday (3).

This race was initially due to take place in mid-March before poor weather forced the organisers to find an alternative date. In the meantime, Schlumpf lowered her national half marathon record to 68:27 in Dresden a fortnight ago before transferring this form to the full marathon on her first attempt at the distance. 

Courtesy of near-perfect halfway splits of 73:11 and 73:03, Schlumpf crossed the finish-line in 2:26:14 to shave 35 seconds from Maja Neuenschwander’s national record and to eclipse the Olympic qualifying mark of 2:29:30 by more than three minutes.

“Now it is time to recover. In May I will go to a training camp in St. Moritz and start preparing for my second marathon,” said Schlumpf, who reached the Olympic 3000m steeplechase final in Rio de Janeiro five years ago.

Schlumpf finished fifth overall and was the second female finisher behind Swiss-based Ethiopian Helen Bekele Tola in 2:24:57. But there was no such luck for Czech debutante Moira Stewartova who fell an agonising nine seconds adrift of the qualifying time with 2:29:39.

The overall winner was Adrian Lehmann who set a lifetime best of 2:12:34.

Potter storms to 14:41 5km in Barrowford

In one of the first road races to be held in the UK this year, Beth Potter smashed through the 15 minute-barrier for the first time in her career on any surface at the Podium 5km in Barrowford in north-west England on Saturday (3) night. 

Her winning time of 14:41 even eclipsed Kenyan Beatrice Chepkoech’s recently set world record of 14:43 as well as the long-standing British record held by former world marathon record-holder Paula Radcliffe at 14:51. However, it seems unlikely this mark will be ratified as a world record due to all of the technical requirements not being met.

Potter was a mainstay on British U18 and U20 teams in the late 2000s before competing for Great Britain in the 10,000m at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and then on home soil the following year at the World Athletics Championships in London. 

In recent years, Potter has turned her attention to the triathlon with palpable success, winning the European triathlon title in 2019. On whether she will focus on athletics or stick with triathlon this summer, Potter told AW:

“I don’t really know anymore. Obviously my aim was to qualify for the triathlon team but unfortunately that’s not currently available to me at the moment because they chose the team at the back end of 2019. It has to be a miracle for me to make that (triathlon) team. But I’m not giving up on it.”

Elsewhere around the world…

On a morning when Ruth Chepngetich smashed the world half marathon record with 64:02 in the Istanbul Half Marathon, world half marathon silver medallist Melat Kejeta from Germany was the top European finisher in eighth in 67:31, one place ahead of multiple European champion Yasemin Can from Turkey in ninth in 68:32.

In the men’s race, former European cross country champion Kaan Kigen Ozbilen was the leading European finisher in tenth in 62:26.

Continuing his comeback to athletics after focusing on American football, 2012 Olympic finalist Lawrence Okoye from Great Britain achieved 65.31m in Stretford on Saturday (3), his best performance since returning to the sport in 2019.

Charles Hicks, who led Great Britain to the U20 title at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Lisbon in 2019, clocked 28:25.29 on his 10,000m debut in Palo Alto, California on Saturday. 

In Gainesville, Florida on Friday (2) Norway’s Thomas Mardal set a lifetime best of 75.77m in the hammer