Laura Muir has hailed the “brilliant” performance of Joshua Griffiths, the unknown club runner whose London marathon performance has now officially catapulted him into the British team at the world championships this summer, saying he has given inspiration to ordinary athletes everywhere.
Muir, who won the European Indoor 1500m and 3,000m titles in Belgrade last month, watched enthralled as Griffiths, who started 10m behind the elite field, produced the run of his life in his first race over 26.2 miles to finish in 2hr 14min 49sec – a time that made him the leading British athlete and placed him 13th overall.
“I thought it was a brilliant performance,” said Muir, who admitted she had never heard of Griffiths until Sunday. “To get into the world championships team is a very difficult thing to do and to go out and smash it on your first marathon was brilliant. It is a great example to all club runners that, if you work hard enough, performing at this elite stage is possible.”
Griffiths, 23, is joined in the British team by Robbie Simpson, who was the second home athlete to finish in London and Callum Hawkins, who ran brilliantly at the Rio Olympics and even led at halfway before finishing ninth. In the women’s marathon squad Ally Dixon, who was the leading British woman home on Sunday, will be joined by Charlotte Purdue and Tracy Barlow.
It is only the third time in history, after 1983, 1993 and 2017, that British Athletics has selected six marathon runners to compete at a world championships, and Dominic King also becomes the first 50km race walker to represent British Athletics at a world championships in 22 years.
The British Athletics performance director, Neil Black, said: “We’re not just picking these athletes to make up the numbers. Even though he is young, Callum has already proven he is a true world-class marathoner and Josh stunned the world with his 13th place this past weekend. I expect all of these athletes to produce very competitive performances this summer, especially with the support of a home crowd behind them.”
Meanwhile the bronze medal achieved by the British women’s 4x400m team at the 2013 world championships will be upgraded to silver after the International Association of Athletics Federations stripped Russia of gold following their team member Antonina Krivoshapka’s suspension for two years.
Krivoshapka, who has also been stripped of her individual 400m bronze medal, was one of five Russian athletes to be handed two-year suspensions after pleading guilty in doping cases involving the London 2012 Olympic Games and the 2013 world championships. Britain’s team of Eilidh Doyle, Shana Cox, Margaret Adeoye and Christine Ohuruogu are likely to receive their silver medals at a special ceremony at the world championships in London this summer.