AW promotion: The best of Britain’s athletes are preparing to do battle for world championships places and UK titles. Here are some of the many clashes to keep an eye out for this weekend
Will Francis be fastest?
Zharnel Hughes has been in the best form this season so far, hoping to reclaim his British title that he last won in his first British Athletics Championships in 2015 over 200m.
Although he has been undisputedly the fastest over 100m this season, Miguel Francis goes into Birmingham as the quickest Brit this year over 200m following a highly-impressive 19.97 at London’s Müller Anniversary Games.
Beyond Hughes and Francis, Adam Gemili has slowly but surely been getting back into the groove of things with a world qualifying standard at the Müller Anniversary Games over 100m courtesy of a time of 10.04. The 200m time has yet to come, but the sub-20 man seems to be getting fitter every race.
And don’t rule out Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake. The championship record holder after winning in 2017, Mitchell-Blake also won the title in 2018 before going on to win European silver in Berlin. In 2019, he’ll have extremely stiff opposition standing between him and a hat-trick of successive titles.
In the women’s 200m, Beth Dobbin emerged on the elite stage at last year’s championships and will look to defend her title in a competitive field. She comes in fresh from a personal best and Scottish record run of 22.50 at the Müller Anniversary Games, with the time ranking her ahead of closest rivals for this coming weekend, Jodie Williams and Ashleigh Nelson.
Williams herself is excelling over the rare double of 200m and 400m. Holding both qualifying standards and running a big personal best in the 400m, her return to form makes for an intriguing 200m this year with the title very much up for grabs given that Dina Asher-Smith is only racing over the 100m.
Completing the trio that spearhead the field, City of Stoke’s Ashleigh Nelson has been a staple of relay teams in previous years, last competing for GB&NI in Zurich at the European Championships in 2014 where she won gold with the 4x100m relay team as well as bronze in the individual event.
Nelson’s success has primarily come in the 100m, but she has excelled over 200m this season with a lifetime best of 22.85 – however, she has never competed at a British Championships over the distance.
Will Wightman get the better of Grice again?
Charlie Da’Vall Grice (pictured, top) has laid down one of the fastest times this season after clocking a 3:30.62 in Monaco last month to leap to fourth on the British all-time list.
He goes in as the fastest by a margin in the men’s 1500m ahead of Scottish duo Jake Wightman and Josh Kerr. In theory that should make him the favourite, but in head-to-heads with Wightman, including two international championships, the Scotsman has come out on top.
Wightman is the most decorated athlete in the field after taking bronze at the Commonwealth Games and European Championships last year, with his ever-growing reputation as a championship racer meaning he shouldn’t be ruled out for the title.
Kerr is the least experienced of the three but shouldn’t be written off. The 1500m NCAA record-holder, Kerr is regarded as one of the best middle-distance athletes ever to grace the American collegiate system.
He has shown glimpses of brilliance at the championships before, but this is the year where he is no longer an underdog – he’s now one of the favourites.
Irozuru leading the way
The women’s long jump sees Abigail Irozuru lead the way fresh from her qualifying mark jump of 6.75m last Sunday at the Müller Grand Prix Birmingham, with the mark her second-best ever behind her PB of 6.80m from 2012.
This weekend’s #MullerBritishChamps long jump sees @Airozuru lead the way, fresh from her 6.75m @IAAFDoha2019 qualifying mark at the @BirminghamDL, where she spoke with AW. See today’s mag for Grand Prix coverage & UK Champs preview (with more video interviews in our digital mag) pic.twitter.com/APxqD4fiFM
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) August 22, 2019
Championship record-holder Lorraine Ugen is looking for the standard, as is British record-holder Shara Proctor, with the latter’s season’s best mark just 4cm shy of the 6.72m Doha qualifying mark.
Ever the championship performer, Jazmin Sawyers certainly isn’t to be discounted, either, with her personal best of 6.86m last year seeing her make the European Championships, where she finished fourth.
The women’s 800m this year is stacked with six athletes currently holding the qualifying standard. Lynsey Sharp is heading into the championships in incredibly strong form, her win in London last month in 1:58.61 putting her among the top 10 in the world this year.
Shelayna Oskan-Clarke will give Sharp a run for her money, though. The champion from both 2016 and 2017 has delivered when it matters in recent years with European indoor gold (2019), world indoor bronze (2018) and European indoor silver (2017) to build an impressive haul of international medals.
Alexandra Bell has yet to win a British vest for a major championship, but has an opportunity after a solid performance for third place behind Sharp at the Müller Anniversary Games in a lifetime best of 1:59.82, the second sub-2 time of her career.
Williams wants more
The men’s triple jump sees Ben Williams face British stalwart Nathan Douglas. Williams has had a breakthrough year, gaining the world and Olympic qualifying mark in Bydgoszcz this month, emulating performances that Douglas is used to. The world youth champion from 10 years ago has had a bit of a late bloom as an elite athlete but will use the British Championships as a good warm-up for the World Championships.
At 36, Douglas is still jumping impressive distances. His season’s best of 16.88m is just 7cm shy of the world qualifying standard. Given Williams has only recently captured the mark, that could well spur Douglas on to achieving the same feat in a genuine head-to-head.
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