27th June 2014

Record Numbers Set For Sainsbury's British Championships

27 June 2014

The cream of British athletes will compete for the chance to become national sporting heroes at the Sainsbury’s British Championships at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium this weekend, from Friday 27 – Sunday 29 June.

Top two finishes will also mean a place on the Great Britain & NI team for the European Athletics Championships team in Zurich in August, providing the athletes have met the qualifying standard.

With that comes the opportunity to add their name to an illustrious British roll of honour at the European Championships, including Lord Coe, Steve Ovett, Linford Christie and Paula Radcliffe.

Competition gets underway on Friday evening with the 200m heats, an event brimming with talent as James Ellington (coach: Rana Reider club: Newham & Essex Beagles) aims for his third consecutive title, and World Junior 100m champion Adam Gemili (Steve Fudge, Blackheath & Bromley) looks to continue his run of form over the longer sprint.

Gemili has impressed over 100m already this season, finishing third in the IAAF Diamond League meetings in both Rome and Oslo; Ellington meanwhile clocked 20.44 in Florida in April, just 0.02 seconds shy of his personal best. But it’s European U23 silver medallist Danny Talbot (Daniel Cossins, Birchfield Harriers) who currently tops the British rankings, having set a personal best of 20.36 in the Czech Republic earlier this month.

No fewer than five athletes line up for the men’s 400m hurdles with the ‘A’ standard already under their belts, so expect an electrifying encounter, starting with the heats on Friday evening. Niall Flannery (Nick Dakin, Newham & Essex Beagles) rose to the top of the European rankings when he clinched victory with a lifetime best of 48.80 in Ostrava less than two weeks ago, and the 23-year-old has enjoyed an unbeaten run so far this season.

Flannery will provide stiff opposition for the reigning European champion, Rhys Williams (Adrian Thomas, Cardiff) – watch out too for 2013 bronze medallist Richard Yates (Stephen Ball, City of Sheffield), Sebastian Rodger (James Hillier, Shaftesbury Barnet) and Tom Burton (Dakin, Tamworth). Former World champion Dai Greene (Malcolm Arnold, Swansea) misses this weekend’s action due to injury.

Last weekend, 2011 world silver medallist Hannah England (Bud Baldaro, Oxford City) captained the GB & NI Team to fifth place at the European Team Championships in Germany; now the 27-year-old will be hoping to clinch her fourth 1500m national title, with the heats on Friday. Laura Weightman (Steve Cram, Morpeth) and Laura Muir (Andy Young, Dundee Hawkhill) – currently third and fourth respectively in the European standings – have also achieved the ‘A’ standard this season, setting new personal bests in the process; a thrilling race is on the cards.

Another athlete hoping to retain his national title is sprinter Dwain Chambers (Reider, Belgrave Harriers). The 36-year-old is aiming for his fifth consecutive Championship win over 100m, with the heats taking place on Saturday morning.

Chijindu Ujah (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo, Enfield & Haringey) is just one of Britain’s talented young sprinters hoping to upset his plans. The 20-year-old raced into the history books earlier this month when he clocked 9.96 – his first sub-10 second race – to finish second behind Trinidad & Tobago’s Olympic silver medallist Richard Thompson in Hengelo.

Ujah is now the third quickest British sprinter of all time behind Linford Christie and James Dasaolu, and is one to watch out for this weekend.

Another star attraction is Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford (Tawiah-Dodoo, Marshall Milton Keynes), who set a new British record of 8.51m earlier this year. Rutherford tops the European rankings and takes on rival Chris Tomlinson (Frank Attoh, Newham & Essex Beagles) in a bid to add the British title to his achievements this year.

Eilidh Child (Arnold, Pitreavie) will be hoping for a strong performance in Saturday’s 400m hurdles heats as she gears up for next month’s Commonwealth Games. The Scot has managed three third place finishes in the IAAF Diamond League this season and is currently the number one European. Meghan Beesley (Dakin, Birchfield Harriers) will be hoping to upset the form book and improve on the bronze medal she won at last year’s British Championships.

There’s a formidable line up in the women’s 800m, headed up by 19-year-old Jessica Judd (Rob Denmark, Chelmsford), the sole competitor to have run under two minutes this year. Judd has impressed on the international circuit this season, finishing third at the IAAF Diamond League in Oslo in 1:59.77 in a race won by Kenya’s World Champion Eunice Jepkoech Sum, and second in Eugene just 12 days prior.

Lynsey Sharp (Reider, Edinburgh AC) also has the ‘A’ standard, having set a new best this season, whilst 2009 World bronze medallist Jenny Meadows (Trevor Painter, Wigan Harriers) is returning to form after prolonged absence through injury.

European U23 heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Mike Holmes, Liverpool Harriers) leapt into the spotlight when she beat many of the world’s best heptathletes at the renowned Hypo Meeting in Gotzis, Austria, earlier this month, shattering her personal best with a world lead score of 6682.

The 21-year-old multi-eventer goes in the high jump as well as the long jump in Birmingham, where she will face the likes of reigning British long jump champion Shara Proctor (Reider, Birchfield Harriers), who finished second at the IAAF Diamond League in Oslo earlier this month.

Rounding off the weekend is the 110m hurdles, and William Sharman (Jerzy Maciukiewicz, Belgrave), Lawrence Clarke (Arnold, Windsor, Slough Eton & Hounslow) and Andy Turner (Lloyd Cowan, Sale Harriers) have all already achieved the ‘A’ standard required to make the GB & NI for the European Championships, so the race is sure to be close, although Sharman, 29, is the fastest of the trio so far this year, having set a lifetime best 13.21 when he finished a highly credible second at the European Team Championships in Germany last weekend.

Tickets for the Sainsbury’s British Championships are still on-sale here: http://www.britishathletics.org.uk/british-athletics-series/sainsburys-british-championships/