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Will only three marathoners represent Canada at 2024 Paris Olympics?

With four days left in the Paris Olympic marathon qualification window, three Canadian marathoners will aim for one final spot Sunday in Denmark

Ben Preisner Worlds 2023 Photo by: Kevin Morris

We are just four days away from the end of the Paris Olympic marathon qualification window, and as things stand, Canada will likely be sending a small team of three marathon runners to the French capital this August. (The maximum is six–three women and three men; Team Canada sent a full team of six to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for the marathon.)

Who’s in?

Cam Levins and Rory Linkletter have secured their spots on the men’s team, having run below the men’s standard of 2:08:10, while Malindi Elmore will represent Canada as the sole female marathoner in Paris, meeting the standard at last year’s Berlin Marathon, where she ran 2:23:30 (the standard is 2:26:50). 

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Photo: Kevin Morris

Who’s now out?

Over the weekend at the Hamburg Marathon in Germany, four Canadians attempted the respective men’s and women’s standards, but all fell short. Natasha Wodak, Leslie Sexton and Dayna Pidhoresky all missed the women’s standard of 2:26:50, with Wodak finishing four minutes shy, due to abdominal cramps. Pidhoresky and Sexton did not finish, dropping out around halfway.

2020 Olympic marathoner Ben Preisner of Milton, Ont., withdrew from the race early, feeling that he would not be able to reach the standard. Instead of giving up on his Paris Olympic dreams and flying back to Canada, the 28-year-old chose to stay in Europe to compete in Sunday’s last-chance qualifying race, the Copenhagen Marathon. “I need to see this Olympic qualification process through to the bitter end,” Preisner wrote on Instagram. “Six days to now prepare my body the best I can.”

One last chance 

Preisner came close to meeting the standard earlier this year in Japan, when he ran a personal best of 2:08:58–48 seconds off the standard–to place fourth at the Beppu-Ōita Marathon (the fourth-fastest men’s marathon time in Canadian history). This result put him in contention for possible Olympic selection based on World Athletics ranking points. But as more male marathoners around the world hit the 2:08:10 mark, Preisner’s position in the rankings fell.

According to the World Athletics Road to Paris tool, of the 80 allocated spots in the marathon, 70 men have met the Olympic standard. If there are no scratches or injuries within the field of 70, 10 spots will be available for male runners to qualify based on points. If Preisner runs the standard Sunday, he is guaranteed entry–but technically, he could get in even if he doesn’t run quite that fast. Since he earned 1,177 points with his previous marathon in Beppu-Ōita, he would need to earn a similar number of World Athletics points to get in—confusing? I know.

Let’s dive in. What works in Preisner’s favour with Sunday’s Copenhagen Marathon is that it’s a World Athletics Elite Label race, meaning performances here are worth more, due to the depth of field and competition. To summarize, a good performance at the Copenhagen Marathon is worth more than a good performance in Beppu-Ōita, which means Preisner has some room to work with—roughly two hours, nine minutes and 45 seconds. If he can finish below 2:09:45, he will likely qualify for the Olympic marathon on points.

Thomas Broatch
Thomas Broatch wins the Canadian Marathon Championships at TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2023. Photo: Todd Fraser/CRS

Preisner isn’t the only Canadian male marathoner looking for a last-minute spot. The 2023 Canadian Marathon champion, Thomas Broatch, will be making his third appearance at the distance, coming off a four-minute personal best performance at the 2024 Houston Marathon, where he placed seventh in 2:11:51. Although Broatch’s time is far from the men’s Olympic standard, if he can run a near three-minute personal best, he could also put himself in contention via points.

The final Canadian in the Copenhagen field is Lee Wesselius, the top finisher at the 2023 Ottawa Marathon. For Wesselius to qualify, he would need to meet the 2:08:10 standard and not a second short. His personal best of 2:14:39 is from the McKirdy Micro Marathon last November.

You can follow the results of the 2024 Copenhagen Marathon from Denmark live on Sunday at 3:30 a.m. ET, here.

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