9th July 2012

Barcelona Beckons

9 July 2012

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, but the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team won´t be able to use surprise as their secret weapon as they prepare for the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain, from July 10-15.
With two athletes in the 43-strong team being World leaders in their events, two being selected to be part of Team GB for the London Olympics and several others being serious medal candidates, there will be plenty of expectation for a squad whose members have more experience than their ages would suggest.
Adam Gemili (coach: Michael Afilaka) and Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Mike Holmes) will be the centre of attention as soon-to-be Olympians; Gemili will do so as favourite in the 100m, courtesy of his headline-grabbing 10.08s performance earlier in the season, hoping to add his name to a list of winners which includes Christian Malcolm, Mark Lewis-Francis and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey; while Johnson-Thompson, who is currently topping the UK rankings in four disciplines, will ensure that her participation in both the long jump and the 100m hurdles against quality opposition is a valuable preparation in the run up to London, where she will line up alongside Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon.
Gemili’s role as expected superstar of this Championships is underlined by his headlining the official IAAF Press Conference, which will be held at 1pm local time on Monday, July 9th at the Auditorium, Barcelona Olympic Stadium.
Pre-event favourites is a role bestowed also on Jazmin Sawyers (Alan Lerwill) and James Gladman (John Hillier), who will be in their rivals’ sights in the long jump and 110m hurdles respectively. Sawyers currently tops the World Rankings with a distance of 6.64m, obtained just a week after first achieving the Qualification Standard and in consecutive competitions to highlight the prime state of form of this athlete; Gladman, instead, will seek to restore his position as world leader, which he held until a few days ago with a time of 13.30s, as he lines up against Yordan O’Farrill of Cuba, who ran 13.27s.
"My goal is still to go out and perform at my best, and if that means I get a medal, that’s great" said Sawyers. "Being on top of the rankings makes being number one here a more realistic hope. I’d be disappointed not to medal."
Despite being only 18, the City of Stoke athlete can draw on plenty of experience from the last twelve months, in which she performed at the World Youth Championships in Lille and claimed a silver medal in the bobsleigh at the Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria.
"I am more used to the way big Championships work, rather than it all being new to me" explained the long jumper, "I am still excited about being here, but I know better how to control myself and how to produce the best performance when it matters."
Hurdler Gladman also knows the importance of delivering at the right time, and won’t let mind games get the better of him in the run up to his event. "I am not even looking at the rankings, to be honest" he said. "There is a lot that can be read in them, but there could be people who are running well and are not listed and others who did a big time early in the season but are doing poorly now."
"In the end, it depends on performing well on the day, and I only have to focus on how I run" Gladman added. "I always knew I had the times in me, but to get it out gives me a little more confidence coming into these Championships. I feel even better now than when I ran 13.30s."
The team has plenty more talent, with reigning European Under 20 Champions David Bolarinwa (John Powell) and World Youth Champion Desiree Henry (Mike McFarlane) being sure to provide medal hopes in the 200m. Middle distance up-and-coming star Jessica Judd (Jeremy Freeman) will double up in the 800m and 1500m after finishing third in the Olympic Trials in the 800m, a solid performance that saw her push Lynsey Sharp and Jemma Simpson hard in the final; and Sophie McKinna (Geoff Capes) will be looking for a strong performance in the shot put, in which she won a World Youth silver medal in Lille.
If current performances weren’t enough to justify an optimistic outlook, the suggestive venue hosting the Championships offers a few reminders of how successful the Great Britain team can be in Barcelona. Competitions will take place in the magnificient Olympic Stadium in Montjuïc, evoking memories of Linford Christie and Sally Gunnell’s 1992 triumphs and the more recent successes of Dai Greene, Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah at the 2010 European Championships.
Daily session reports will be posted on www.uka.org.uk, while results will available on www.bcn2012.org.
The full Aviva Great Britain & Northern Ireland team is as follows:

100m: Adam Gemili (Michael Afilaka) – Blackheath & Bromley, Chijindu Ujah (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) – Enfield & Haringey; 200m: David Bolarinwa (John Powell) – Newham & Essex Beagles, Joshua Street (Matthew Thomas) – South London; 800m: Sean Molloy (Mark Hookway) – Tonbridge, Ben Waterman (Steve Mann) – Ealing, Southall & Middx; 1500m: Charlie Grice (Jon Bigg) – Phoenix AC; 110mH: James Gladman (James Hillier) – Warrington; 3000SC: Zak Seddon (Jeff Seddon) – Bracknell AC; 4x100m relay: Edmond Amaning (John Powell) – Thames Valley, Gemili, Tom Holligan (Keith Ridley) – Edinburgh AC, Jordan Kirby-Polidore (Craig Burrow) – WGEL, Emmanuel Stephens (Julian Golding) – Newham & Essex Beagles, Ujah; Long Jump: Elliot Safo (John Shepherd) – Croydon; Discus Throw: Nick Percy (John Hillier) – Shaftesbury Barnet; Javelin Throw: Matti Mortimore (Esa Utriainen) – Ipswich; Hammer Throw: Nick Miller (John Baumann) – Border, Michael Painter (John Painter) – City of Norwich.

100m: Rachel Johncock (Philip Oliver) – Colwyn Bay AC, Sophie Papps (Neil Dodson) – Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow; 200m: Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie) – Blackheath & Bromley, Desiree Henry (Mike McFarlane) – Enfield & Haringey; 800m: Emily Dudgeon (Stuart Hogg) – Edinburgh AC, Jessica Judd (Jeremy Freeman) – Chelmsford; 1500m: Judd, Jennifer Walsh (Deborah Rowlands) – Spenborough; 3000m: Emelia Gorecka (Mick Woods) – Aldershot, Farnham & District, Laura Muir (Andy Young) – Dundee Hawkhill; 5000m: Gorecka; 100mH: Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Mike Holmes) – Liverpool H; 3000mSC: Pippa Woolven (Janet Nash) – Wycombe; 4x100m relay: Johncock, Papps, Annie Tagoe (Connie Henry) – Thames Valley, Hannah Thomas (Dave Lease) – Wrexham AC, Bianca Williams (Lloyd Cowan) – Enfield & Haringey, Steffi Wilson (Graeme Gourlay) – Poole AC; Pole Vault: Katie Byres (Julien Raffalli-Ebezant) – Sale Harriers Manchester; Long Jump: Johnson-Thompson, Jazmin Sawyers (Alan Lerwill) – City of Stoke; Shot Put: Sophie McKinna (Geoff Capes) – Great Yarmouth; Discus Throw: Shadine Duquemin (John Hillier) – Shaftesbury Barnet; Hammer Throw: Abbi Carter (Dave Smith) – Kingston upon Hull; Heptathlon: Emma Buckett (Bill Jewers) – Basingstoke & Mid Hants, Katy Marchant (Antonio Minichiello) – Leeds City.