8 July 2008
With national medals up for grabs it promises to be a nail-biting three days of athletics, here are 10 of the hottest events to watch:
Always an intensely competitive race, this year it’s Tyrone Edgar who has shown the best early season form out of the sprinters vying for an Olympic spot. World Championship relay bronze medallist Craig Pickering and European Under 23 champion Simeon Williamson will be vying to secure their first ticket to an Olympic Games, whilst 32-year-old Marlon Devonish, the reigning national champion, will be hoping his experience pays off.
Martyn Rooney performed fantastically at the European Cup last month, storming home to win the individual title then registering an impressive leg in the 4x400m relay. The Croydon athlete is unbeaten this year as he aims to win his first senior title. Former American decathlete Michael Bingham is ranked highly, whilst Richard Buck, Andrew Steele and European Indoor bronze medallist Robert Tobin are amongst strong opposition.
World Indoor silver medallist Chris Tomlinson tops the British rankings ahead of a number of long jumpers looking to knock the Middlesborough man off the number one spot. European silver medallist Greg Rutherford has jumped 8.04m to head the outdoor rankings whilst former Commonwealth Champion, Birchfield’s Nathan Morgan has two victories over Tomlinson this summer and club mate Jonathan Moore is over eight metres for the first time in six years.
Belgrave Harrier Samson Oni will be hoping to make it a double after winning the UK indoor title earlier this year. The 27 year-old registered a personal best of 2.30m back in Birmingham last month – a height matched by Commonwealth silver medallist Martyn Bernard just three weeks later. Watch out too for two-time runner up Germaine Mason who achieved the qualifying standard in 2007, and local man Tom Parsons, the top Briton in Osaka.
World number one Phillips Idowu has enjoyed a terrific year so far, winning the World Indoor title back in March and defeating all comers this summer. Nathan Douglas and Larry Achike – who partnered Idowu in Athens - hope to join Idowu on the flight to Beijing. Achike is currently enjoying a renaissance which has seen him jump back over 17m. Douglas meanwhile is recovering from injury and also surpassed the 17m barrier last weekend
Our female sprinters are enjoying terrific form, racing at a higher level than at any time since the days of Cook and Lannaman a quarter of a century ago. Wakefield’s Emily Freeman tops the British rankings after clocking a personal best of 22.72 seconds in Leiden last month, whilst Liverpool’s Anyika Onuora has set three personal bests in 2008 but remains just 0.13seconds shy of the qualifying time for Beijing. Watch out too for Christine Ohuruogu, Emma Ania and Jeanette Kwakye.
Nicola Sanders stormed home to win the 400m at her first outing of the season, the SPAR European Cup in France. The World silver medallist followed that up with a win in Italy, and will be a tough act to follow here in Birmingham. Glasgow’s Lee McConnell achieved the Olympic A standard seven days ago, whilst London athlete Donna Fraser could yet upset the odds and qualify for her fourth Olympic Games.
Always an exciting event, this year is sure to be no different with Jenny Meadows, Marilyn Okoro and Jemma Simpson continuing their great rivalry over two laps. All three have clocked sub-two minutes this season so far, with Okoro the fastest of the trio at 1:59.02 from last Saturday. Liverpool’s Vicky Griffiths and Cardiff’s Amanda Pritchard are also right in contention.
Sure to be a competitive race, with Hannah England topping the British rankings after a superb victory at the USA Collegiate Championships. Susan Scott is unbeaten by a Briton this year and finished third at the European Cup. Hot on their heels is Commonwealth gold medallist Lisa Dobriskey, the third GB qualifier in 2008. Stephanie Twell also has the time but competes at the World Juniors in Bydgoszcz.
Four British athletes have all bettered the Olympic A qualifying guideline and are contenders for the team for Beijing. Barbara Parker who set a GB record of 9:37.08 in May, the former record holder and Hallamshire Harrier, Hatti Dean, was close to her best in Oslo, whilst the field also includes reigning UK Champion Helen Clitheroe and Jo Ankier – another former GB record holder who has improved her best by six seconds in 2008.
Tickets for the Aviva National Championships at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham on 11,12 & 13 July 2008 are available by phone on 08000 556 056 or online at www.ukathletics.net