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european under-23 championships trials preview

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Jack Green
Jack Green

23 June 2011

A number of Aviva GB & NI senior internationalists return to domestic competition at the Aviva England Under-23 Championships in Bedford this weekend (25/26 June) following their recent outing at the European Team Championships, however, the spotlight will also fall on those athletes who have yet to secure qualification standards for the European Under-23 Championships in the Czech Republic in July.

On the track, current European number one under-23 Jack Green (coach: Malcolm Arnold) is the outstanding athlete in the men’s 400mH line up with a PB and season’s best of 49.17, well inside the 50.70 qualification standard.

Like fellow Aviva GB & NI internationalist Danny Talbot (coach: Dan Cossins) who attempts a 100m/200m sprint double this weekend, Green is favourite to dominate in Bedford and has a realistic chance of progressing from under-23 level to the senior IAAF World Championships in Daegu later this summer.

Three strong candidates back him up in the rankings however, and Nick Dakin-coached duo Nathan Woodward and Niall Flannery, who have both clocked sub-50 times already this season, and Tom Phillips who has a lifetime and season’s best of 50.22, will ensure there’s a fight for the remaining team places.

12 athletes - six men and six women - have achieved qualifying times for the 5000m, but in the women’s race in particular a new candidate could emerge for selection as Stevie Stockton (coach: George Gandy), who recorded a 3000m best of 9:00.67 when making her senior track debut for the Aviva GB & NI team in Sweden last weekend, steps up to 5000m for the first time in Bedford in a bid to achieve the 16:15.00 standard.

Hannah Walker (coach: Bud Baldaro) is the current UK rankings lead with 15:48.69 but could only finish fifth under-23 in a high quality 5000m at the Manchester BMC in May, while Tom Farrell, who won’t run the Trial and does not want considered for selection, leads the men’s age group rankings with 13:26.59 ahead of Ross Millington (coach: Steve Vernon) with 13:36.39.

In addition to European Team Championships representatives Stockton and Talbot on the track, James Shane (coach: Martin Brown), also fresh from international duty in Stockholm where he finished an impressive third, is expected to secure his place on the Aviva GB & NI under-23 team with victory this weekend.

He is one of five athletes to have achieved the 3:43.00 standard, but with a lifetime and season’s best of 3:39.11, he starts as favourite.

Eilish McColgan (coach: Liz McColgan), with the required qualification standard in two events, is in great form but could face a tougher task in the 5000m where she’s ranked third UK under-23 compared to her top ranked status in the 3000m SC with a best time of 9:55.13.

On the in field, World Junior Champion Sophie Hitchon (coach: Derek Evely), World Junior bronze medallist Holly Bleasdale (coach: Julien Raffalli) and Brett Morse (coach: Nigel Bevan), also senior internationalists in Stockholm, have already destroyed their respective hammer, pole vault and discus qualification standards.

While Hitchon and Bleasdale are expected to dominate their events this weekend, Morse, who has a lifetime and season’s best of 64.49m, will face a potentially trickier match against the inconsistently impressive Lawrence Okoye (coach: John Hiller), the 2010 Aviva England under-20 champion and World Junior Championships finalist, who has exceeded the 58m standard with a 63.25m PB this season.

Of those still to achieve qualifying standards for the European Under-23 Championships, reigning European Junior 110mH champion Lawrence Clarke (coach: Malcolm Arnold) is arguably the highest profile. The Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, who will make his 2011 outdoor debut for in Bedford, needs to secure victory with a mark of 13.80 or quicker to guarantee his selection.

Niall Brooks (coach: Norman Poole), fourth in last year’s IAAF World Junior Championships 800m final and a former European Junior silver medallist, also needs to deliver under pressure, but he faces in-form opposition in Mukhtar Mohamed (coach: Mustafa Mohamed), the only athlete to have achieved the qualifying time of 1:48.00 this season with a best of 1:47.13.

In the women’s 100m no athlete has so far achieved the 11.60 standard, but former World Youth Champion Asha Philip (coach: Mike McFarlane) is agonisingly close with a season’s best of 11.62 into a tough -2.9m/s headwind.

Also in that category, World Junior championships javelin finalist Dan Pembroke (coach: Kevin Pembroke) has been in outstanding form this summer and his 75.89m PB is only 11cm short of the 76m standard.

The under-20 preview will follow.

Daily reports from the Aviva England Under-20 and Under-23 Championships will be posted on the UKA website over the weekend.