11 August 2014
The European Championships get under way in Zurich on Tuesday 12 August and the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team will be confident of challenging for medals in Switzerland after plenty of success at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Mo Farah (coach: Alberto Salazar) makes his return, and will attempt to win the 5,000m and 10,000m double , a feat he achieved four years ago in Barcelona. After missing the Commonwealth Games with abdominal issues, Farah is back in GB & NI team action for the first time since winning the same double at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow last year.
Olympic and newly crowned Commonwealth Long Jump Champion Greg Rutherford (Jonas Taiwah-Dodoo) will be hoping to back up his Hampden performance with victory in Zurich. The British record of 8.51m which he jumped in April is still the world lead but he will face tough opposition from the likes of German Christian Reif, who beat him at the European Team Championships in June.
Lynsey Sharp (Rana Reider), the reigning European Champion will be looking to defend her 800m title in Zurich. The Scot created one of the memorable moments of the Commonwealth Games as she ran to silver despite illness the night before her race. She will be hoping to continue her form after recording a lifetime best of 1:59.67 last month.
“I’ve just been thinking of one competition at a time. I’ve enjoyed this year so much and I don’t feel any pressure; I just want to go out there and enjoy it. This is the first time I’ve been in a British team since January 2013, so it’s great to be back and hopefully I can just go out there and do myself and the team proud.”
Jessica Judd (Rob Denmark), another athlete who has run under two minutes this year, and Alison Leonard (Bud Baldaro) also line-up in the event for GB & NI.
Laura Weightman (Steve Cram) will be seeking to continue her fine form in the 1500m after clinching silver in Glasgow. She will run alongside Laura Muir (Andy Young) and Hannah England (Baldaro), with Muir also in great form after breaking the Scottish record last month. They will face a world class field containing the world champion from Sweden, Abeba Aregawi and the Netherland’s Sifan Hassan, who ran the world leading time of 3:57.00 at the IAAF Diamond League in Paris.
Another silver medallist in Glasgow, Tiffany Porter (Reider), will line-up as one of the favourites in the 100m hurdles as she looks to add to her growing list of honours. The world bronze medallist’s biggest threat is likely to come from French athlete Cindy Billaud, who has run 12.56 this year.
In the sprints, James Dasaolu (Steve Fudge) arrives in Zurich with 10.03 season’s best, the 9.91 man hoping his later start to the season will give the edge over those who have been racing for a number of months.
“The French guy, Jimmy Vicaut, who has run sub 10 this year, is ranked number one and I’m the second ranked going into the competition so, on paper, I should pick up a medal. That’s what is expected of me. I won a medal indoors and I would like to take that indoor European form outdoors and come home with a medal.
“I have only competed three times this year. I feel like I’m quite fresh and I have still got a lot to give. It took four or five races last year to reach my peak so I think it’s worked to my advantage.”
Glasgow 2014 4x100m silver medallist Harry Aikines-Aryeetey and Sainsbury’s British Champion Dwain Chambers (both Reider) also go in the 100m, before turning their attention to the relay later in the week. Danny Talbot (Dan Cossins), the defending European Championship bronze medallist is in 200m action alongside Commonwealth Games silver medallist over the 100m Adam Gemili (Fudge) and James Ellington.
Women’s sprinting is also on the up this year with further success expected in Switzerland this week. Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie) returns to the senior team one year on from her Moscow 4x100m bronze as IAAF World Junior 100m champion. She took that title in fine style in Eugene, and now lines up in the 200m alongside Glasgow 2014 silver and bronze medallists Jodie Williams (Christine Bowmaker) and Bianca Williams (Cowan), making a formidable trio. And just as they did in Glasgow, the pair will shoot for further success in the 4x100m relay later on in the week, with Jodie also named in the 4x400m squad.
In the 100m, Sainsbury’s British Champion Asha Philip (Bowmaker) will be fighting for a medal after missing the podium by just one place in Glasgow. She’ll be joined by Ashleigh Nelson (Michael Afilaka) and junior Desiree Henry (Reider).
Eilidh Child (Malcolm Arnold) will be hoping to build on the silver medal she won in the 400m hurdles in her home country two weeks ago. It is hard to believe that Child was eighth at these championships in 2010, and such is her progress over the last four years that she will have her sights firmly fixed on a place on the podium.
Reigning Olympic and world champion Christine Ohuruogu (Lloyd Cowan) is the only British woman in the 400m. Matthew Hudson-Smith (Tony Hadley) will make his senior debut in the men’s equivalent fresh off the back of anchoring England’s 4x400m relay team to gold in Glasgow. He’ll be joined by experienced duo Martyn Rooney (Reider), who was fourth in Glasgow, and Conrad Williams (Linford Christie).
William Sharman (Jerzy Maciukiewicz) will be racing for a European medal after his silver success at the Commonwealth Games. He equalled his personal best of 13.21 at the Sainsbury’s Glasgow Grand Prix in July and will face world class competition in Zurich, including Diamond race leader, Pascal Martinot-Lagarde of France who has run 12.95 this year.
After gold and silver in Glasgow, Steve Lewis (Dan Pfaff) and Luke Cutts (Trevor Fox) go in the men’s pole vault, but will face a strong line-up including world record holder and Olympic Champion Renaud Lavillenie.
As always, a handful of athletes will make their senior debuts at the European Championships, notably Morgan Lake (Eldon Lake) who became the double world junior champion in Eugene last month. The 17 year old completed a double victory in the heptathlon and high jump, the first time that has ever been achieved at the championships. Lake will only take part in the high jump in Zurich where she will take on Europe’s best.
Head Coach Neil Black is excited but expectant of a well-balanced GB & NI team as they prepare to take on Europe’s best.
“There is an expectation for members of this team to be winning medals or challenging hard at the top end in their finals. With youngsters coming through from the junior ranks and our experienced medallists performing as strongly as they have in previous years, we stand in good stead. I’m genuinely excited as to the strength of the team headed for Zurich and looking forward to a successful championship in Switzerland.”
The action will be live on the BBC all week, but you can also follow it on the British Athletics channels: