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Euro U23s Kicks Off

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Harry Aikines Aryeetey at press conference
Harry Aikines Aryeetey at the pre-championship press conference


16 July 2009

Reports after each Under 23 session will be available on www.uka.org.uk

Former World Junior 100m champion Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (Sutton & District), speaking at the European Athletics official press conference on the eve of the European Under-23 Championships (Kaunas, Lithuania, 16-19th July), acknowledged the importance of the event in an athlete’s development and believes he has every chance of following in the footsteps of Aviva UK champion Simeon Williamson – currently the fastest man in Europe.

“Competitions like this are so important as we make the transition from junior to senior” he said. “It’s fundamental to our development and how we learn to conduct ourselves as senior athletes.”

“Simeon (Williamson) won the European U23 100m title in 2007 and now he’s the fastest man in the UK – the fastest man in Europe. These competitions help us realise what we’re capable of. I’m pleased to be back here and I’m looking forward to competing.”

Currently second ranked European U23 over 100m – the top ranked athlete at the Championships – Aikines-Aryeetey, who competed in the European Juniors at the same venue in 2005, admits his chances of gold are good. “I need to execute my own race and go out with a positive attitude. Simeon is the title holder and I’d like to keep it at home. He’s had an amazing year and I’d like to follow in his footsteps – this is a great stepping stone.”

Also in an ambassadorial role, Sale Harriers Manchester due Alex Smith and Sarah Holt – both medallists in last weekend’s Aviva UK Championships and World Trials in Birmingham – were today named as Aviva GB & NI team captains for this week’s Championships.

Smith, a former Commonwealth Youth Games champion and World Youths bronze medallist, won gold at the Alexander Stadium with a lifetime best performance (69.79m), ranking him second on the UK senior performance rankings – and top under-23 – for 2009 to date.”

“I’ve done every Junior Championships since 2005 and every year it’s got harder to qualify and make the team and this time it’s no exception.

“The competitions have got tougher on every occasion and as captain, I want to ensure we get out there and support one another to do the best we possibly can.”

Holt, a bronze medallist in Birmingham (59.90m) and the top ranked UK under-23 All-Time, said: “This Championship means a lot to me. Like Alex, I’ve been to a few, but this is more special because only a few months ago I was injured and didn’t think I’d make it onto the team.”

“Everyone here wants to make it to London in 2012 and there’s no reason why we can’t be. I hope we can use this as a stepping stone and have the success we all deserve.’