Britain’s best set for Sheffield

A look ahead to this weekend’s Sainsbury’s British Athletics Indoor Championships and world trials action

Holly Bleasdale (Mark Shearman)

The 58th UK Indoor Championships takes place at Sheffield’s EIS Arena this weekend and, as well as British titles, many will also be chasing selection for the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot on March 7-9.

More than 400 athletes are set to compete in front of a sell-out crowd, creating the biggest indoor domestic championships yet. While the event is not televised, fans can follow the action via live streaming on the BritishAthleticsTV YouTube channel. On Twitter? Why not follow @AthleticsWeekly for updates?

With so much action on offer we thought we’d highlight five events we think it’s particularly worth keeping an eye on. Want more? You can find our full four-page preview to the event in the latest issue of AW, out Thursday February 6.

» Men’s 60m

Reigning UK 60m champion James Dasaolu says he expects to win a medal at each of the championships he prepares for in 2014 and that includes the World Indoors in Poland next month. In Sheffield the Steve Fudge-coached athlete will look to secure selection and build on his winning start to the season when he clocked what was then a world-leading 6.50 for his quickest-ever season-opener in Glasgow last month.

Dasaolu was involved in a domestic head-to-head with Dwain Chambers at the four-way international match in the Scottish city a fortnight ago, the experienced Belgrave athlete claiming the runner-up spot with 6.61. Having pulled out of last year’s championships with a minor back injury, the lure of a sixth 60m title and a 16-race unbeaten streak at the EIS is sure to provide additional motivation for Chambers.

Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, James Ellington and Richard Kilty are also entered, as is Sean Safo-Antwi, who sits behind Dasaolu in the season rankings with a 6.59 PB. His training partner Chijindu Ujah and Rion Pierre, who continues his comeback from injury, will be looking to build on their respective 6.61 and 6.60 personal bests on a weekend where the stadium record of 6.49 could well fall.

» Pole vault

Ok, we know this is only supposed to be our five events to follow, but we couldn’t resist including both the men’s and women’s pole vault competitions.

Having broken the UK pole vault record in France a fortnight ago, Luke Cutts will be looking to go one better than the four UK Indoor silver medals he has won in the past.

The 25-year-old cleared 5.83m on his first attempt to add a centimetre to the previous British best mark set by Steve Lewis outdoors in Poland in 2012. Max Eaves and Andrew Sutcliffe are also in action, as are multi-eventers John Lane and Ben Gregory and world youth pole vault champion Harry Coppell.

In the women’s event, European indoor pole vault champion Holly Bleasdale will be targeting her fourth consecutive UK indoor title having returned to her winning ways in 2014 following a spell on the sidelines in 2013 because of injury.

The 22-year-old, who cleared 4.67m in a jump-off with Poland’s Anna Rogowska to be crowned European indoor champion in Gothenburg last March, recovered from a blip at her opening height of 4.42m in Glasgow in January and went on to manage a best of 4.62m. Just under a week later she added nine centimetres to that mark in Germany for an equal world lead.

» Women’s 3000m

Hannah England once again steps up to the 3000m in Sheffeld, the 2011 world 1500m silver medallist looking to regain her title from 2012.

European junior 3000m champion Emelia Gorecka will also line up indoors for the first time following a winter on the mud which saw her sign off her illustrious junior career with a second Euro Cross title.

Reigning UK champion Lauren Howarth is due to open her season, the 23-year-old having clocked 8:56.48 last year for victory, despite never having competed indoors before.

» Men’s 800m

All eyes are sure to be on Guy Learmonth as he looks to go even quicker following a 1:16.48 600m in Glasgow and a 1:47.80 800m in Vienna a few days later. The 21-year-old delighted home fans with his Scottish senior and UK under-23 600m record which came after a sprint finish saw him power past Jeremiah Mutai and a tiring Andrew Osagie.

Osagie is also in action in Sheffield and he is currently the quickest Brit over 800m this year, his 1:46.48 clocked in Dusseldorf pushing Learmonth from the top spot.

As well as qualifying times, the track record of 1:47.26 held by 2013 UK champion Joe Thomas is sure to be a target. World masters record-holder Anthony Whiteman is also set to compete, while Mukhtar Mohammed, second ahead of Learmonth in Sheffield last year, is due to open his season.

» Women’s 60m hurdles

Former heptathlete Karla Drew competes in her first competition as a single-event athlete this weekend, having decided to focus on the sprint hurdles. The 24-year-old retained her women’s pentathlon title in Sheffield at the start of the year and was just 0.02 off her hurdles PB with 8.35 at the British Athletics Combined Events Match three weeks later.

Tiffany Porter goes into the event as favourite, the world bronze medallist leading the UK rankings with 8.13 recorded in Germany. That came a few days after her season opener of 8.32 in Glasgow where she was lucky to stay on her feet following a heavy clash with the first barrier.

Serita Solomon should be there to push her, as should European under-23 heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson who competes in her first senior UK Indoor Championships.

» See this week’s edition of AW, out Feb 6, for a full preview. For startlists and results, click here. See next week’s Athletics Weekly for full coverage of the weekend’s action.

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