09 July 2009
The Aviva World Trials & UK World Championships take place at the Birmingham Alexander Stadium this weekend - here the Midlands’ own Olympic medallist Katharine Merry takes us through her ten events to watch out for.
Expect a highly competitive race with a field which includes World junior champion Steph Twell - one of the most exciting British prospects to emerge in recent years – and in-form Hannah England, who doubled up impressively for GB & NI at the recent European Team Championships in Portugal, finishing fourth in both the 800m and 1500m. Also in the mix is Charlene Thomas, who clocked the World Championship qualifying time in Poland last month, and the experienced Susan Scott, a semi-finalist in Beijing last year.
World and Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu races over one lap in Birmingham as she prepares to defend the title she won in Osaka two years ago – she first came to prominence by winning this race in 2004. The 25-year-old lines up against Glasgow’s Lee McConnell who finished third at the European Team Championships in June, as well as in-form Victoria Barr –a member of the GB & NI 4x400m relay team which won bronze at the European Indoor Championships earlier this year.
Jess Ennis is back in great form after injury forced her to miss the Olympics in Beijing last year. The 23-year-old is currently the world ranked number one heptathlete, after scoring a lifetime best of 6587 at her season opener in Italy. Ennis is also the top-ranked British hurdler and will provide tough opposition for Olympic finalist Sarah Claxton and British Universities winner Zara Hohn.
Traditionally an event bursting with talent, this year looks no different as Jemma Simpson, Marilyn Okoro and Jenny Meadows continue their battle for supremacy over two laps. Okoro won here last year, clocking a sub-two minute time – but Simpson has already proved she’s in great form this season, clocking 1:59.31 – her second fastest ever performance - to finish second in Madrid behind Olympic bronze medallist Hasna Benhassi.
Local man Tom Parsons set a personal best to win this event last year – and he’ll have to do the same again this weekend to reach the qualifying standard for the World Championships in Berlin. Parsons has already shown great form at the Birmingham Alexander Stadium this season, clinching victory at the Midlands County Championships - but Olympic silver medallist Germaine Mason and Samson Oni will provide tough competition.
As always the men’s 100m will provide plenty of excitement as defending champion Dwain Chambers, the fastest man in Europe this year, goes for his fourth Trials victory. Lining up alongside him will be 2007 European Under 23 champion Simeon Williamson, runner-up in Birmingham last year, Craig Pickering, who ran impressively to finish second behind Usain Bolt in Ostrava last month, Tyrone Edgar and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey.
Olympic silver medallist Phillips Idowu has won this event on four previous occasions and is undoubtedly the man to beat. Olympic Games finalist Larry Achike, and Nathan Douglas, who won European Indoor silver at the Birmingham NIA two years ago behind Idowu, will be hoping they are up to the task.
David Greene clocked the fastest time in Europe this year when he ran 48.62 seconds in Prague. Now the 23-year-old Welshman will be hoping to add a national title to his name after finishing third here last year. He’ll have to get past the likes of Rhys Williams, his predecessor to the Welsh record, and Channel Islander Dale Garland, Trials winner two years ago.
Michael Bingham tops the British rankings so far this year and will be looking to improve on his third place finish in Birmingham in 2008. The 23-year-old recently finished second at the prestigious National Collegiate Championships in the US and will provide tough competition for the rejuvenated Tim Benjamin and Rob Tobin, as well as Richard Strachan, who impressed at the inaugural Super 8 in Cardiff last month, and Conrad Williams, who scored a personal best of 45.63 in Bulgaria recently.
Jeffrey Lawal-Balogun already has a number of wins under his belt this season and a new personal best of 20.38 seconds which he set in Switzerland last month. The 23-year-old tops the British rankings but he’ll have to watch out for the experienced Olympic relay medallist Marlon Devonish, who won in Geneva last month. National indoor 200m champion Leon Baptiste also recorded a lifetime best in Switzerland, and could well pose threat.
The Aviva World Trials & UK Championships is part organised by Birmingham City Council and supported by Marketing Birmingham.
The Championships take place at the Birmingham Alexander Stadium on 10, 11 and 12 July. Tickets can be purchased online at www.uka.org.uk and by phone on 0800 055 60 56.