25 June 2014
Britain’s best athletes go head-to-head this weekend (27-29 June) at the Sainsbury’s British Championships and six-time British Champion Steve Cram believes that there could be some intriguing battles unfolding at the Birmingham Alexander Stadium.
What event do you think will be the one to watch at the Sainsbury’s British Championships this weekend?
At the minute the sprints are capturing everyone’s attention and rightly so. There is new talent bubbling under the surface and coming to the fore. With the chance of the Europeans and the Commonwealths, people have improved their performances. This is hard on a world level, especially in the sprints. The very young ones are running very well and the strength in depth is good, which inevitably pushes everyone on. The juniors are running as fast as the seniors, so the sprints should be very good to watch this weekend, so this will be where most of the attention will probably be.
However there are plenty of other events which will be interesting including the women’s middle distance, particularly the women’s 800m. There are other events such as the men’s 400m hurdles which will be interesting. Dai Greene is struggling to get back from injury, and there are three or four guys who are running under 49 seconds. it is really encouraging that we have this strength in depth in this event.
Who has impressed you the most so far this season?
I was in Hengelo when Ujah ran 9.96 and James Ellington was ninth in 10.19, Harry Aikines-Ayreety (10.08) was in the race too, so it is going to be close this weekend. Richard Thompson won that race but he set a world lead at the Trinidad and Tobago trials, so he was in good form. We’ve seen some of the youngsters arrive with quick times in the past but not win on the day for whatever reasons. There is pressure to turn up and deliver a performance and get in the top three and if not you are in trouble. From what I’ve seen of Ujah, he looks like the real deal. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how he deals with the pressure.
You briefly touched on the women’s middle distance, but who do you think will be the contenders at the Sainsbury’s British Championships?
There are plenty of people in the women’s 800m and 1500m who could challenge. There are a lot of good younger runners pushing the times forward, it spurs all the others coming through behind - it’s going to be fascinating. Women’s middle distance has been good for a long time and in terms of the European Championships, we will be sending a strong squad with strength in depth. The three girls in the 1500m (Laura Weightman, Hannah England, Laura Muir) will all be thinking they have a chance of a medal in Zurich, and the same can be said for the girls in the 800m.
We are going to see a very exciting battle in the high jump and long jump between Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Morgan Lake, what do you make of the two future stars of the heptathlon?
They are going to be the stars of our sport in the future; Katarina Johnson-Thompson already is, so it is going to be fascinating to see how they get on. Katarina has competed in sixteen events this year I believe, and set PB’s in all the events apart from the 800m. They are hugely talented athletes. Morgan Lake will be trying to emulate this. We need to point these athletes into the crowd’s attention.
What did it mean to you to be British Champion in your career?
It meant a lot obviously as British Champion but it is right that it is used as a trials so the top people are always there competing. I was asking can I afford to come to the trials, am I 100% ready to compete? These are always issues but if you know you have a chance to be British Champion then you have to take it. It sets the benchmark. It is a good feeling anyway, especially when you win it for the first time as you move from the juniors to the seniors. A lot of athletes have the opportunity to do this at the weekend and it will be a massive moment.
Watch Britain’s best athletes go head-to-head at the Sainsbury’s British Championships at the Birmingham Alexander Stadium on 27-29 June as they bid to become British Champion #BecauseItMatters. You can purchase tickets here