The UK Indoor City Challenge Final at the EIS Sheffield on Sunday 18 February (12 noon) looks set to feature several of ‘the new generation’ who won titles and medals at the Norwich Union European Trials and UK Championships at the same venue on 10-11 February – plus another 60m SprintsFest.
Admission will be free to spectators as athletes representing Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, London North, London South, Manchester and Oxford strive to wrest the trophy away from the grasp of reigning champions Sheffield and chase their share of the £8,500 prize pot provided by the UK Athletics Competitions Department.
Sheffield will be spearheaded by their local heroine, Jessica Ennis, finalising her competitive preparations for the pentathlon at the European Indoor Championships at the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham, on 2-4 March.
Fresh from winning the high jump title plus bronze medals in the 60m hurdles and long jump at the Trials, the multi-talented 21-year-old will contest the 60m sprint, 60m hurdles and long jump in a match that is likely to be decided by bonus points won for personal bests, season’s bests and ICC records as UKA puts the emphasis on improving the quality of competition and erasing the ‘just do it for a point’ philosophy.
Sheffield – able to call on athletes based in Humberside and the East Midlands as well as Yorkshire – will again include pole vaulter Steve Lewis, the Man of the Match in their semi-final in Glasgow, and 400m semi-final winner Richard Buck, determined to make amends for being disqualified after crossing the line first at the Trials.
Manchester, impressive winners of Sheffield’s semi-final, hope to field basically the same team with England indoor pentathlon champion Katia Lannon aiming to continue her improvements. Rebecca Sweeney, 200m winner at the semi, is expected to move up to the 400m to replace Jenny Meadows.
Birmingham, equally impressive winners of the second semi-final, hope to again call on high jumpers Tom Parsons and Julie Crane, who have become big fans of the UK Challenge concept, plus Celia and Tina Brown (no relation), who dominated the middle distance races at their semi-final.
The UK Athletics Competitions Department also confirmed this afternoon that a 60m SprintsFest will be incorporated in the ICC Final following the success of the experiment at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre semi-final.
“We’ve had 16 men and 8 or 9 women express strong interest – many of them London-based athletes who obviously enjoyed the competition at the semi-final,” reported UKA Events Manager Paul Aldridge. “We will continue to take entries for the SprintsFest until noon on Wednesday, which will give plenty of time for athletes to contact us if they have not been selected in the Final teams.”
Sprinters can get into the 60m SprintsFest by calling Aldridge on 0870 998 6710 or emailing email@example.com.