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european junior championships preview

European Juniors Press Conference
Andy Pozzi (second from right) at the European Junior Championships Press Conference

20 July 2011

UK national junior hurdles record holder Andy Pozzi (coach: Malcolm Arnold) - alongside World Junior 100m champion Jodie Williams (coach: Mike McFarlane) and Mick Woods-coached endurance experts Jonny Hay and Emelia Gorecka, the highest placed European juniors in the 2011 IAAF World Cross Country Championships - leads the European under-20 rankings ahead of this week’s European Junior Championships in Tallinn, Estonia (21-24 July).

England Athletics age group champion Pozzi, who clocked a Meeting Record of 13.29 in Mannheim, Germany earlier this month, now has the realistic target of securing the European age group title won by his training partner Lawrence Clarke two years ago.

“My season has been really good so far and I’m happy with how things have progressed,” he said at today’s Press Conference.

“I think this event has come at the right time for me and I’m in shape to run really fast. I know that when training is going well for me against the high calibre group of athletes I work with in Bath, then that's a good indication that things are in the right place.

“Obviously the 110mH is going to be one of the most competitive events of the week, but I can’t control what the others do and I’m just focused on my own performance,” continued Pozzi, whose recent lifetime best puts him third on the European All-Time junior list over 99cm barriers - sixth on the global All-Time list - with Poland’s Artur Noga holding the continental record with 13.23. “I know that if I can execute the perfect race and everything goes to plan then I should run a very quick time; if they can run quicker than that, well fair enough.”

Also ranked number one in Europe, World Junior 100m champion Jodie Williams (coach: Mike McFarlane) will attempt a sprint double as she lines up in two individual events, plus the 4 x 100m relay, in Tallinn.

European leader with a best of 11.34 this season in the 100m, Williams could become the first British woman in 38 years to win gold in this event after Sonia Lannaman’s victory in 1973, while in the 200m, her season’s best time of 23.05 in Mannheim currently ranks her second behind current World number three and Dutch National Record holder Dafne Schippers, who has opted to focus on the Heptathlon this week.

“Everything is going to plan and training is going really well - I’m happy,” said Williams. “I’ve been having a few problems with my start in the 100m and conditions generally haven’t been good in my races so far, but I’m sure it’ll come together.

“I just want to do my best this week, make the finals and hopefully medal. It’s important to get another experience under my belt. There’s some really good competition out there and I wouldn’t say that it was a given that I’ll even medal, there are girls who have run some good times this year so it’s more about getting the experience of running at a high level and running well; medals are a bonus.”

Emelia Gorecka, with a PB of 15:51.20, will focus on the 5000m in Tallinn.

Ranked number one in Europe this season, the event offers a step up in distance for the 17-year-old who finished 11th over 3000m in the 2010 IAAF World Junior Championships.

“While I enjoy the 3000m and I know I can run quicker, I’m more confident in what I can do over 5000m,” said the Aldershot, Farnham and District athlete.

“This will be my first 5000m in a Championship and it’ll be interesting, I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve obviously looked at the other girls’ times but rankings mean very little now we’re here because there’s always room to improve.”

The last, in fact, the only, British gold medal by a woman in this event was won by Emily Pidgeon in 2005, but Jonny Hay, the top-ranked European male in the 5000m with a lifetime best of 13:57.16 in May, could follow in the footsteps of Mo Farah, double European senior champion over 5000m and 10,000m, who won the European Junior title ten years ago in 14:09.91 to become Britain’s sixth men’s 5000m champion in this competition.

“I may be ranked number one, but I’ve got to prove that on the track now,” said Hay. “I’ve got to prove who I am, and what I’m capable of.

“I learned a lot at my first track Championships at the World Youths in 2009 and although I don’t generally get nervous, I was really nervous there. Now I think I know how to stay relaxed; the stuff that stressed me out two years ago hopefully won’t get to me now.

“I’ve obviously got international cross country experience but the main difference here is that my track tactics will come into play and I think I’ve developed a lot tactically this year. I watched what happened in Ostrava (European Under-23 5000m) and I’ll speak to my coach Mick Woods about what I need to do to make sure I’m in the best possible position throughout the race.”

The Aviva GB & NI team can be found in full on the UKA website.

The 2011 European Junior Championships will be streamed live in its entirety on the European Athletics website with additional English language commentary during the full afternoon sessions and morning-session finals.