Brighton Phoenix runner Charlie Grice has qualified for the 1500m final at the Rio Olympic Games.
The former Cardinal Newman pupil finished fifth in the semi-final in the early hours of this morning (Friday 19 August).
He completed the first of the two semi-finals in 3:40:05, just over a quarter of a second behind the Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, who won the race in 3:39:73.
Defending Olympic 1500m champion Taoufik Makhloufi was second in 3:39:88. Kiprop won gold at the Beijing Games in 2008 and is the bookies’ favourite to take gold again.
Grice, 22, became boxed in as he stayed with the pace on the final lap of his semi-final but managed to hold a line and stick with the leaders to go through automatically.
He makes it through to the final which takes place at 1am (BST) on Sunday (21 August), with the ninth-fastest time out of the 12 qualifying runners over the two semi-finals.
Grice was given a place in the semi-finals after an appeal because he was judged to have been impeded in his heat earlier in the week.
His team-mate Chris O’Hare was unable to join him in qualifying for the final, fading on the home straight and finishing 11th in 3:44:27 in the slightly faster semi-final. The Scot had run 3:39:26 in the first round. The Kenyan athlete Ronald Kwemoi won O’Hare’s semi-final in 3:39:42.
Grice told the BBC after his race: “I am so happy to get through. When the pace was slow I was quite nervous but I knew my 800m speed was good.
“I told myself to stay patient and I am glad I redeemed myself because Tuesday was not me.
“A few times people were cutting in, so I am just glad I stayed on my feet. I wanted to make sure I proved myself today. It was close but I am thrilled.
“Two days to rest up and the final will be a cracker.”
Grice runs for Brighton Phoenix, the athletics club founded 35 years ago by Steve Ovett, another Brighton-born Olympic 1500m finalist.
Ovett, a former Varndean schoolboy, won the bronze medal in Moscow in 1980 in 3:39:0 just over half a second behind Sebastian Coe and with fellow Englishman Steve Cram finishing eighth. Ovett had already beaten Coe to gold in the 800m.
Four years later at the Los Angeles Games respiratory problems hampered Ovett. He was too ill to finish in the final. Coe took gold in 3:32:53, setting an Olympic record, and Cram silver.
While Grice may be a 100-1 outsider in the final in Rio on Sunday, he carries British hopes on his shoulders and the good wishes of fans as he takes on the world-class competition.