U.S. Olympic Trials Third Place Finisher Leonard Korir To Run Rotterdam Marathon In Desperate Bid To Make Paris Team

Korir will also head to the Lisbon Half, hoping to boost his position in the world rankings

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Leonard Korir, a prominent figure in the American marathon scene, is embarking on a crucial phase in his pursuit of Olympic glory. 

Following his bittersweet third-place finish at the US Olympic Marathon Trials in February, where he clocked 2:09:57 in Orlando, Korir is strategically navigating through the nuances of Olympic qualification.

Korir is gearing up to participate in the EDP Lisbon Half Marathon this Sunday in Portugal, aiming to enhance his global ranking and bolster his chances for Olympic selection. 

Additionally, Korir, under the guidance of his coach, Scott Simmons, will also tackle the Rotterdam Marathon on April 14. A successful performance in Rotterdam, where he targets achieving the 2:08:10 Olympic standard, would guarantee his spot in the Olympic marathon event in Paris.

The Intricacies Of Olympic Qualification

Korir’s participation in these events is not merely about having a packed spring campaign; it’s a calculated move to improve his world ranking and solidify his Olympic selection.

However, the journey to Olympic qualification is stubbornly complex. 

Despite his impressive performance at the Trials, which placed him among the top three contenders (which in years prior was enough to punch your ticket to the Olympics), Korir faces the daunting task of meeting the Olympic standard of 2:08:10 set by the World Athletics Committee. 

With the qualification window closing on May 5, Korir faces the challenge of either achieving this standard or boosting his world ranking high enough to make the Road to Paris list cut.

Currently, Korir sits as the highest-ranked American at 71st, a position subject to change based on subsequent performances by himself and by other athletes, all of whom are vying for a spot on the start in Paris.

Korir’s Road to Paris ranking is determined by the average of his top two performances during the qualification window. 

His current average, based on performances at the Olympic Trials and the 2023 Paris Marathon, stands at 1186 points. To ascend the rankings, he must deliver a standout performance in Lisbon, aiming to surpass the performances of athletes like Liam Adams and Hugo Catrileo, who currently occupy higher spots on the list.

U.S. Olympic Trials Third Place Finisher Leonard Korir To Run Rotterdam Marathon In Desperate Bid To Make Paris Team 1

The ambiguity surrounding Korir’s eligibility to pursue the Olympic standard post-Trials led to confusion and uncertainty within the athletic community. 

Initially, USATF’s stance appeared to prohibit top finishers from seeking a spring marathon to improve their times. However, subsequent clarifications emphasized adherence to published selection procedures, ultimately granting Korir the opportunity to chase the standard. 

It was Korir’s coach, Scott Simmons, who proactively pursued USATF for clarification, which resulted in a clear path for Korir as he now attempts to secure his spot in the Olympics at the eleventh hour.

Simmons acknowledges the incredible challenge ahead for Korir in Lisbon, emphasizing the need for an exceptional performance to elevate his standing. While specific target splits were not disclosed, Simmons highlights the competitive field in Lisbon as a conducive environment for Korir to deliver a noteworthy performance.

A Balancing Act Of Performance And Recovery

With the Olympic Games on the line fuelling Korir’s pursuit, the logistical challenges of marathon running pose inherent risks. 

The proximity of the Rotterdam Marathon, a mere ten weeks after the Trials, accentuates concerns about fatigue and recovery. Nonetheless, Simmons attests that Korir has shown remarkable recovery since his Trials appearance. 

With the Rotterdam Marathon coming up fast, and despite such a short turnover, Simmons deems this period sufficient for recuperation for a seasoned marathoner like Korir. 

While the timeline between Rotterdam and the Olympics should allow for adequate recovery, Korir still faces the challenge of potentially carrying accumulated fatigue to Paris, considering the proximity of the Trials and Rotterdam, not to mention also trying to throw down a fast half in Lisbon.

U.S. Olympic Trials Third Place Finisher Leonard Korir To Run Rotterdam Marathon In Desperate Bid To Make Paris Team 2

Leonard Korir’s strategic participation in the Lisbon Half Marathon and the upcoming Rotterdam Marathon demonstrates his relentless pursuit of Olympic qualification. 

With meticulous planning and unwavering determination, Korir and his coach, Scott Simmons, navigate through challenges and seize every opportunity to enhance his Olympic chances. 

In the coming weeks, it will become increasingly clear as to whether Korir will fulfill his Olympic dreams and stand at the startline in Paris.

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Jessy has been active her whole life, competing in cross-country, track running, and soccer throughout her undergrad. She pivoted to road cycling after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology with Nutrition from Acadia University. Jessy is currently a professional road cyclist living and training in Spain.

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