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british under 23s ready for tallinn test

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Seren Bundy-Davies Medal Prague

With a climate not too dissimilar to the UK, the GB & NI team will feel very much at home in the rain as they take to the Kadriorg Stadium in Tallinn on Thursday when the European U23 Athletics Championships get underway.

Leading the way on the track for the British team is 2015 breakthrough act Seren Bundy-Davies (coach: Stephen Ball). The first half of the year has been nothing short of a whirlwind for the Welsh 400m runner, who took individual bronze and relay silver at the European Indoor Championships on her championship debut. She followed that up with a 51.62 split to anchor the GB & NI team to bronze at the World Relay Championships in the Bahamas before running a 51.72 personal best just two weeks ago to go top of the European U23 rankings.

“The goal is definitely the gold medal. I'm unsure yet whether it's going to be two rounds or three rounds but I'm confident I can perform over either. We have to be looking at gold in the relay as well as we've got such a strong team.

“It was only last year that I had my first international so it's really strange to have people with less experience asking me questions! At the end of the day it's just the same event as you've been training for and racing all year, so you've just got to go out and perform like you know you can. Sometimes people get a bit overwhelmed by the atmosphere and the crowd, but you've just got to try and feed off it and use it to your advantage. You've just got to enjoy it!”

Another member of the team who has made great strides over the past 12 months is Nick Miller (Tore Gustafsson) and he also lines up as the man to beat in the men's hammer. Silver medallist at Glasgow 2014, Miller has been on fire this summer, moving to within 57cm of the British record before taking the British title for the second time last summer. Ninth at this event two years ago, the Border man will be looking to use that experience to his advantage on Friday evening.

Long jumper Jazmin Sawyers (Alan Lerwill) heads to Tallinn knowing this will be her last hurrah at an age-group championships, having been an ever present since 2011, but she has already started to make her mark on the senior stage. Winning a surprise silver medal at the Commonwealth Games last summer, the law student will be looking to take matters into her own hands in the Estonian capital, as she bids to add another medal to her growing collection.

“Glasgow has boosted my confidence massively as it shows I am capable of doing it, even outside of the age groups, and that I can outperform what I'm expected to do on paper. There was no way I was meant to get silver there so it doesn't really matter where I'm ranked here, as long as I turn up on the day and jump to my best, which I feel like I'm in shape to do.

“I've done a lot of age group champs and in 2011 I competed here, so it'll be nice to go back to a track that I know, although last time I did the 200m and high jump, so it'll be a bit different!”

Leon Reid (James Hillier) leads the charge in the short sprints for GB & NI, lining up as the third fastest man on paper in the men's 200m. Reid has proven championship pedigree, having taken silver in a GB & NI clean sweep at the European Junior Championships in Rieti two years ago, and having run a personal best of 20.62 just a month ago will certainly expect to be standing on the rostrum on Sunday afternoon.

Clean-sweeps are few and far between at any level of athletics, but sprint hurdlers David Omoregie (Benke Blomkvist), David King (Hillier) and Khai Riley-La Borde (Ray Gibbins) have a chance of writing their names into the history books as they line up as first, second and third fastest in Europe this year. Even despite the absence of Frenchman Wilhem Belocian, who beat Omoregie to World Junior Championship gold last summer, the Welshman knows taking gold in Tallinn is a formidable task.

“We've just got to stay focussed, execute our races and get through to the final. We've just got to keep it clean; we're all definitely capable of making the final and then once we get there we can just give it everything. One of the important things about hurdles is that the only thing you can change is your lane, and your hurdles, so I'll just be focussing on that.”

In the distance events, European U23 cross country champion Rhona Auckland (Joyce Hogg) toes the line in the women's 10,000m as one to watch. Taking surprise gold on the mud and snow of Borovets in December has done wonders for the young Scots confidence, as has her 32.28.32 personal best to take victory at the British Athletics 10,000m Championships in May.

In the men's equivalent Marc Scott (Steve Gulley), like Auckland, starts as second fastest on paper having run 28.30.33 to finish fourth in a international field at the Stanford Invite in April. Also heading to Tallinn with a top three ranking is Cameron Boyek (David Lowes), who'll be looking to emulate Charlie Grice's (Jon Bigg) 1500m silver medal two years ago.

For further information on the European U23 Championships head to: http://www.european-athletics.org/competitions/european-athletics-u23-championships/