26 June 2009
Five GB & NI athletes lead the European Under-23 rankings going into this weekend’s Aviva England Under-23 Championships and European Trials.
Defending champion and top ranked UK under-23 James Dasaolu (Croydon), who raced to a lifetime best of 10.09s at the Athletica Genève EAPMeeting earlier this month, will be favourite for the men’s 100m title.
He’ll be up against former World Youth and World Junior 100m champion Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (Sutton & District) – with a PB of 10.10s – who clocked a season’s best of 10.17s when finishing runner-up to Dasaolu in Switzerland.
Stephanie Twell (Aldershot, Farnham & District) – fourth over 3000m at the SPAR European Team Championships and 2008 World Junior 1500m champion – will not compete this weekend, but heads a GB one-two-three-four in Europe at age-group level, highlighting the strength and depth in the endurance events at this level.
On this occasion, and in the absence of the in-form Hannah England and Twell, the women’s 1500m field is led by Emma Pallant (also Aldershot) with a 4:09.96 best set at the end of May and well inside the 4:12.00 UKA European under-23 standard.
She may however opt to race the 5000m, for which she’s also second ranked UK under-23 behind Twell, but will need to work hard for the 16:20.00 qualifying time required for selection.
The men’s 1500m will be the one to watch however; already five athletes – four of whom are entered (James Brewer, Ricky Stevenson, David Forrester and Jonathon Taylor) – have clocked sub 3:43.00 in recent weeks, the quartet ranking third, fourth, fifth and eighth respectively in the European under-23 rankings.
The men’s 3000m SC is more clear-cut – on paper at least. Stephen Lisgo (Butler University/Mansfield) clocked an impressive PB of 8:35.49 - a Scottish Commonwealth Games qualifying time in addition to a European Under-23 Championships mark - to finish third in the NCAA Championships on June 12th.
Now ranked sixth on the Scottish All-Time lists, Lisgo is clear at the top of the UK senior rankings and European under-23 rankings for 2009 to date and the only GB & NI athlete to achieve the 8:40.00 standard this year.
Fellow Scot Conor McNulty (Kilbarchan), who has improved his steeplechase best from 9:27.37 in 2008 to 9:03.04 in 2009, will offer the main title challenge.
Another potential medal contender - should she make it to Lithuania - is 400m hurdles specialist Eilidh Child (Pitreavie AAC), currently second ranked in the UK (top ranked under-23).
Child,fifth in the European U23 Championships two years ago, made her Great Britain & Northern Ireland senior international debut in last weekend’s SPAR European Team Championships (June 20th/21st), placing fourth in 55.48s, 0.02s outside her lifetime best but inside the UKA World Championships 'A' standard of 55.50s for the second time and her fourth Scottish Commonwealth Games qualifying standard.
It could be one of the most exciting events of the day in Bedford with the top five UK under-23’s entered – two of whom have already run inside the 57.40s qualifying mark set by UKA (Child and Perri Shakes-Drayton (Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets)) - and only two and half seconds splitting the five’s season’s best times.
Top ranked Brit Eden Francis – also a member of the GB & NI senior team in Portugal last weekend – leads the field in the women’s discus.
The Birchfield athlete, second ranked on the UK All-Time list (U23), recorded an impressive PB of 59.27m at this year’s Bedford International Games (May 31st) and will be keen to return to the same venue for the European Trials – but she’s the only athlete in the field to have exceeded the 55.00m selection standard and will arguably take home the title.
Automatic selection for the European Under-23 Championships (Kaunas, Lithuania, 16th-19th July) will be given to the first eligible athlete past the post in the Trials, provided they achieve or have achieved a UKA qualification standard from 11th April up to and including the trials.
A further two athletes – three if the winner of the Trials has not achieved a qualification mark – can be consideration for selection on the basis of: achieving a UKA qualification standard within the qualification period; their position at the Trials; consistency of performance at or around the UKA standard in higher level competitions and head to head performances in higher level competitions.
Up to date entry lists for the competition and results over the weekend will be available on this link.