A look ahead to this weekend’s event where British titles and GB spots for the European Indoor Championships are up for grabs
With GB team places for the European Athletics Indoor Championships available, competition at this weekend’s Sainsbury’s Indoor British Championships in Sheffield should be furious.
While many of the top athletes are sitting out the indoor season, big names like Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Jenny Meadows will be in action.
Except under exceptional circumstances, athletes will be expected to compete in the event they are hoping to contest in Prague. The period for qualification began on May 1 last year, thus including outdoor performances, but athletes who gained the mark before January 1 will have to show recent form.
The first two eligible athletes from each event at the trials will be automatically selected if they have the standard or gain it by February 22. Other qualifying athletes may also be added to the team, up to a maximum of three per discipline.
As usual, one of the most eagerly awaited events is the men’s 60m, in which Britain always has good medal chances in the major championships. However, at the time of compiling this preview the names of world indoor champion Richard Kilty and sub-10 100m man James Dasaolu were missing from the entry list.
Another sub-10 100m athlete, Chijindu Ujah, does feature, though, the 20-year-old having run a PB of 6.53 at the London Games recently.
That is inside the 6.60 qualifying mark for Prague, while Sean Safo-Antwi (6.61 this year) will be aiming to join him. Former world indoor champion Dwain Chambers will be hoping to improve from his slow start to the season.
Lawrence Clarke will be looking to continue his return to top fitness, having climbed to second on the 60m hurdles world rankings with his PB of 7.59.
Nigel Levine defends his two-lap title and will be among those chasing the qualifying time of 46.90. In the 800m, Mukhtar Mohammed, who won European bronze two years ago, will be trying to retain his title. Charlie Grice is the only runner among the 1500m entries to have the qualifying standard, albeit the outdoor one from last year. Lee Emanuel, who won the 1500m last year, is expected to start only in the 3000m.
Walks events have been added to the programme this year and Tom Bosworth could threaten the UK 3000m best of 11.23.9.
The high jump title could be going to a Mr Smith, but will it be David or Allan or could the up-and-coming Chris Kandu beat them to it? The pole vault includes three of Britain’s five vaulters over 5.50m this year, the favourite being Luke Cutts.
Julian Reid is favourite in the long jump after his UK lead of 7.91m, while Nathan Fox will be hoping to go one better this year and take the triple jump title. Zane Duquemin is back to defend his shot put title and will be hoping to usurp Scott Lincoln as UK No.1 for the season.
Dina Asher-Smith will be looking to continue her fine current form in the 60m, the world junior 100m champion having revised her PB to 7.12 this year to lead the UK rankings and secure another indoor qualification standard for Prague. Also set to compete are Welsh sprinter Rachel Johncock, the Hylton twins Shannon and Cheriece and Annabelle Lewis, who returned from more than 11 months out through injury to win the Northern 60m title in January.
Serita Solomon is down for both the 60m and 60m hurdles. Lucy Hatton is set to be her biggest competition over the barriers. Katarina Johnson-Thompson is to continue her comeback from injury by lining up in the hurdles and high jump as she works towards contesting the pentathlon in Prague. She’ll face some top competition when she defends her high jump title as she goes up against Isobel Pooley and Morgan Lake.
Seren Bundy-Davies leads the UK 400m rankings with her 52.20 PB and Prague qualifier in Vienna at the end of January. A top line-up has been announced for the 3000m as Emelia Gorecka makes her indoor debut, while Jess Judd, Hannah England, Charlene Thomas, Josephine Moultrie and Steph Twell are also set to race.
Laura Muir leads this year’s UK rankings for the 3000m and 1500m and contests the shorter event this weekend. Bethan Davies, Heather Butcher and Ellie Dooley are among those set to contest the 3000m race walk.
Jenny Meadows has gone sub-2:00 for 800m in her two outings this season, her 1:59.21 in Vienna easily a Prague qualifying time and the quickest indoor 800m since 2012. The 2011 European indoor champion will have her sights set on her eighth British 800m title.
Commonwealth silver medallist Sally Peake leads this year’s UK pole vault rankings, while Eden Francis is among the shot put entries and will be looking to regain the title she last won in 2012.
Commonwealth silver medallist Jazmin Sawyers, who sits behind Johnson-Thompson on this season’s long jump rankings, is in action while Lake is also entered in this event. Another Commonwealth silver medallist, Laura Samuel, leads the entries for the triple jump.
» See the February 12 edition of AW magazine, available to read digitally here, for a more in-depth four-page preview to this weekend’s action in Sheffield. Next week’s Athletics Weekly will include reports, pictures and results