You don’t just magically appear at the World Athletics Championships, you need to earn your right to be there – and this weekend opportunity knocks for around 700 of Great Britain’s finest athletes.
Doubling up as the British Championships and trials for the big one in London later this summer, Adrian Clarke takes us through five of the events that catch his eye at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium this weekend….
British sprinting doesn’t boast household names like Linford Christie or John Regis anymore, but don’t for a moment assume it’s in the doldrums.
When the cream of the Team GB’s 200m crop gather this weekend, at least seven men on the starting blocks will expect to hit the tape first.
With only the top two guaranteed a place on the GB team for next month’s World Championships, don’t miss Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, Miguel Francis, CJ Ujah, Adam Gemili, Danny Talbot, Zharnel Hughes and Richard Kilty scrap it out for honours.
With six of them achieving the qualifying standard already, the strength in depth is superb, and as a sub 20-second time is on the cards it could be THE race of the meeting.
I’m tipping 200m specialist Mitchell-Blake to edge out Hughes and Gemili.
Their female counterparts might throw a spanner in the works when it comes to the claiming the best race though.
Last year’s women’s 200m final stole the show, with Dina Asher-Smith pipping rival Desiree Henry by two hundredths of a second in an absolute classic; and the 2017 reunion will be just as tight.
Back from a long-term foot injury, and desperate to make the World Championships, Asher-Smith returns with a point to prove, in what looks a seriously competitive field.
Henry will start as favourite, but heptathlon star Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Bianca Williams might also have a say in the shake-up.
Women’s Long Jump
The women’s long jump will also be a high quality, ding-dong battle.
European indoor silver medallist Lorraine Ugen has recorded the best jump of the year so far by a Brit, but national record holder Shara Proctor (who won silver at the 2015 Worlds) and defending champion Jazmin Sawyers will offer stiff competition.
All three have good pedigree and should compete in London, but they desperately want British title glory first.
If the conditions suit, don’t be surprised if all three pull-off season bests. This could be feisty!
For those old enough to remember the glory days, this used to be the Blue Riband event at the British Championships. Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram conjured up a series of absolute belters, before going on to claim global acclaim.
The class of 2017 won’t get around as fast, very few 1500m stars have in the past 30 years, but it should still produce a fascinating contest.
Holder of the title Charlie Grice has made this race his own in recent years, and is a European, Commonwealth, World and Olympic finalist – but on the biggest stage he is yet to make a big impression.
And going into this contest he is also sweating on his place in the team.
Jake Wightman and Chris O’Hare have both run faster than him this season, and rising star Josh Kerr, 19, has the talent to pull off a shock podium finish.
As they round the final bend on Sunday, things could get extremely interesting. I believe Wightman will win.
Scottish star Laura Muir, one of Team GB’s best medal hopes for London in the 1500m and 5000m, misses out on the trials through injury, but that paves the way for two of her compatriots to battle it out for glory.
Olympic finalist Elish McColgan is the favourite, but with the experienced Steph Twell also entering, it’s by no means a foregone conclusion.
This time last year the two Scots went heel to heel down the home straight with Twell finishing the fastest. This time I fancy McColgan to exact revenge.
Leave a Reply