World Athletics Championships: Chris Thompson ‘absolutely devastated’ as visa delay forces marathon withdrawal | Athletics News

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Chris Thompson, 41, was due to represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland over 26.2 miles at the World Athletics Championships on Sunday; UK Athletics released a statement on Friday saying there had been “significant delays in the processing of his US visa”

Last Updated: 15/07/22 5:40pm

Chris Thompson will not be able to compete at the World Athletics Championships

Chris Thompson will not be able to compete at the World Athletics Championships

British athlete Chris Thompson is “absolutely devastated” after a visa delay forced him to withdraw from the marathon at the World Athletics Championships this weekend.

Last year, Thompson famously qualified and then competed over 26.2 miles at the Tokyo Olympics at the age of 40.

His stunning run at the British Olympic Marathon trials (in a personal best time) came just days after he had become a father. Thompson went on to finish as the top British man in Tokyo.

The now 41-year-old was due to represent his country again at World Athletics Championships on Sunday, but has been forced to pull out just days before the race.

On Friday, UK Athletics released a statement saying Thompson would not be able to compete after “significant delays in the processing of his US visa”.

“I’m absolutely devastated I won’t be in Eugene to compete,” the athlete said.

“This was my major aim for the year and had prepared well for it. I’ll never know what might have been, but I had high expectations of myself going out. It should never have got to this point and it’s hard to believe it has.

“However, I’m very grateful to my close network of family, friends, colleagues and officials who supported and rallied for me, to try amend the situation.”

Thompson talked through his stunning run at the British Olympic Marathon trials last year and won't get a chance to replicate that type of performance on the World stage

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Thompson talked through his stunning run at the British Olympic Marathon trials last year and won’t get a chance to replicate that type of performance on the World stage

Thompson talked through his stunning run at the British Olympic Marathon trials last year and won’t get a chance to replicate that type of performance on the World stage

UK Athletics said it had been in “close liaison” with World Athletics and had also enlisted the help of the UK Government to solve a “last-minute hold-up”.

“We are obviously very sad for Chris that he has been unable to travel to Eugene for the World Athletics Championships,” Paula Dunn, the GB & NI team leader said.

“We are grateful for the interventions and assistance of World Athletics and the UK Government to attempt to resolve the matter, but time has run out.

“We are gutted that Chris will miss the Worlds as he has worked incredibly hard to be in a position to race here.”

Joshua Griffiths is named as the sole representative for Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the men’s marathon race, which takes place at 2.15pm BST (6.15am local time) on Sunday.

Rose Harvey, Jess Piasecki and Charlotte Purdue are due to take part in the women’s race on the same day.

Coe conceded some visa cases would not be resolved

Earlier in the day on Friday, World Athletics president Lord Sebastian Coe had conceded that not all of the outstanding visa cases would be resolved.

Almost 400 athletes and officials have suffered visa issues trying to enter the United States before the Championships start.

Kenyan sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala – who won the African 100m title last month – is expected to arrive in Eugene just three hours before his race.

World Athletics president Lord Sebastian Coe has accepted visa issues will continue to be an issue in Eugene

World Athletics president Lord Sebastian Coe has accepted visa issues will continue to be an issue in Eugene

Lord Coe said: “We will work right up to the last minute but will we be able to resolve all those issues in time for the start of competition? No, we won’t be.

“The one thing which is clear to me as we battle to do as much as we possibly can is it is complicated. In relative percentage terms it’s a small number but it’s of no comfort if you are in that category.

“Of course there are lessons to be learnt but the key learning is this is a very complicated landscape. There isn’t one thing which you can look at and say it’s the dominant problem.”

Muir one of first Brits on track

Laura Muir arrives in Oregon in shape and is a medal contender

Laura Muir arrives in Oregon in shape and is a medal contender

The action starts in Eugene on Friday, with the first day featuring Laura Muir starting her campaign for a first World Athletics Championship medal over 1,500m in the heats.

Muir finished fourth in London five years ago and fifth in Doha in 2019. She battled with injuries leading up to those Championships but, after last summer’s 1,500m Olympic silver medal, feels she has established herself.

“We’ve done it now and that takes the pressure off a bit and if anything it makes me more dangerous,” the Scot said.

“I don’t have that weight on my shoulders. I can go out there and be more relaxed. When I’m relaxed I run better.

“It’s nice to go in and not have that pressure on myself to know you have to get this medal or we’ve never won a global outdoor medal. I don’t have to prove myself.”

The first six from each heat will qualify for the semi-finals, plus the six fastest losers. One of Muir’s rivals for gold will be Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon, who beat her to Olympic gold in Japan last year, and has not lost since Tokyo.

Muir is joined in the heats by Katie Snowden and Melissa Courtney-Bryant, while Reece Prescod and Zharnel Hughes run in the 100m heats.

Nick Miller (hammer) and Sophie McKinna (shot put) also compete, with Holly Bradshaw aiming to add to her Olympic bronze when she begins her pole vault qualification.

The 4x400m mixed relay team also have the chance to win Great Britain’s first medal with the heats and the final on the opening day at Hayward Field.



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