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BRITAIN’S BEST GET SET FOR NATIONAL TITLE FIGHT

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Jodie Williams

09 February 2012

Britain’s top athletes will step up their 2012 preparations at the Aviva Indoor UK Trials and Championships in Sheffield this weekend in what promises to be one of the strongest editions of the meet in recent history.

A star cast of British athletes, led by former heptathlon World Champion and Sheffield local Jessica Ennis, will this weekend descend on the English Institute of Sport to battle it out for 2012 national honours and a ticket to next month’s World Indoor Championships in Istanbul.

In the all-important Olympic year, athletes will be out in force to earn a coveted national crown and see their 2012 campaigns off on the right note.

Ones to watch

Holly Bleasdale – Pole vault
The British record holder lines up at her first meet on home soil of 2012 this weekend when she steps out in defence of her national title.

Bleasdale, who cleared 4.87m at a meet in Villeurbanne, France, in January to move briefly to No. 2 on the all-time list behind world indoor record holder Yelena Isinbayeva, has made a blistering start to the new year and will look to continue her run in Sheffield this weekend.

Hannah England – 3000m
Fresh from her World Championships silver medal success in Daegu, South Korea, in September, England will line up on the track in Sheffield for the first time over 3000m to check her form on the back of a hard winter training stint in Kenya with the Aviva GB & NI Team.

In the wake of her 2011 World Championships campaign, England will enter this summer’s Olympics as a genuine medal contender and after her second place in the 1500m at last month’s Aviva International Match in Glasgow, will be looking for her first win of the year at the EIS.

Jessica Ennis – 60m hurdles, high jump, long jump, shot put
Multi-eventer Jessica Ennis will take on four events at the Trials this weekend as she continues preparations for the defence of her World Indoor pentathlon title next month.

The former World champion is determined to regain her dominance of the event in 2012 after giving up her world title to Tatyana Chernova in Daegu last summer, someone she will go head-to-head with at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul next month.

After being forced out of the 2008 Olympic Games with a foot injury, Ennis enters 2012 as one of Britain’s top medal hopes for London and will be looking for a strong start to the season in front of her home crowd.

Robbie Grabarz – High jump
Grabarz wasted no time in getting his Olympic year campaign up and running, bolting to the top of the world indoor rankings with a 2.34m clearance in the German town of Wuppertal last month. He has since moved to No.3, but the result saw Grabarz add 5cm to his personal best and climb to equal third on the UK all-time list, setting the scene for a huge year on the world stage.

Grabarz, who missed out on a berth at the World Championships in Daegu last summer, will be determined to make a return to the senior team in 2012, starting with the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul next month.

The 24-year-old has asserted himself as one of the most exciting names in British athletics this season, and will be looking to build on his new-found status in Sheffield this weekend with his first senior title.

Nicola Sanders – 400m
Nicola Sanders will contest her first indoor race since taking gold at the 2007 European Championships when she competes in Sheffield this weekend. The 29-year-old has been beset by injury since her 2007 World Championships silver medal, but remains a fierce contender in the two-lap event.

This weekend will present a real opportunity for Sanders to prove her worth against her British peers as she vies for a place on the British Olympic team. Also challenging for a berth will be reigning Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu, Lee McConnell and Shana Cox, each of whom ended 2011 higher placed in the rankings than Sanders.  

Jodie Williams – 60m
The European Under 23 100m and 200m champion and  World Junior Championships 100m title-holder is making major strides on the senior circuit, and looms as one of the most exciting sprinters in British athletics for many years.

After taking fourth place in the 60m at last year’s European Indoor Championships in Paris, all eyes will be on Williams as she takes to the track to put her winter training to the test.

The reigning 60m national champion turned on a stunning performance at last year’s Trials and will start favourite to claim back-to-back titles. But standing in her way will be Asha Phillips, who last month became the first British woman to defeat Williams – and did so twice.

The Aviva Indoor UK Trials and Championships will be at the EIS in Sheffield on 11-12 February. Tickets are now sold out; for further event information go to uka.org.uk/aviva-series. The event will be shown live on Channel 4 from 2pm on February 12.