23rd June 2021
PART ONE: Ones to watch at the Müller British Athletics Championships
EVENTS TO LOOK OUT FOR THIS WEEKEND
The Manchester Regional Arena is poised to stage three days of Olympic trials competition from Friday 25th June to Sunday 27th June with selection for Tokyo at stake.
The event will be streamed live on the British Athletics website as athletes strive for qualification and British titles.
It is difficult to think of a more competitive event on the programme at the Müller British Athletics Championships. The quality of the men’s 800m has been rising in recent years but it took off last summer when Daniel Rowden (coach: Matt Yates, club: Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) ran 1:44.09 in Zagreb to match the best time of 1980 Olympic champion Steve Ovett.
Rowden led a British one-two-three that day in Zagreb as Elliot Giles (Jon Bigg, Birchfield) and Jake Wightman (Geoff Wightman, Edinburgh AC) followed him home. Yet since then the event has cranked up to an even higher level.
In February Giles clocked 1:43.63 to smash Seb Coe’s long-standing UK indoor record, while Jamie Webb (Adrian Webb, Liverpool Harriers) was also inside Coe’s mark with 1:44.54. As this summer began to unfold, Max Burgin (Ian Burgin, Halifax) front-ran his way to an emphatic victory in Ostrava in 1:44.14. Then, this month, Oliver Dustin (Graeme Mason, Border) trumped them all by taking two seconds off his PB to clock 1:43.82 to win in Nice.
Only Coe, Ovett, Steve Cram, Peter Elliott and Andrew Osagie have run faster outdoors. Dustin, who is still only 20, led a British sweep of the medals at the 2019 European Under-20 Championships in Boras and the silver and bronze medallists that day – Ben Pattison (Dave Ragan, Basingstoke & Mid Hants) and Finley Mclear (Kirk Salmon, Exeter) – are also in good form and contenders at what promises to be the race of the weekend in Manchester.
Such is the quality, established internationals like Kyle Langford (Jon Bigg, Shaftesbury) and Guy Learmonth (Henry Gray, Lasswade) will go into the championships as outside medal hopes.
Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie, Blackheath & Bromley) will be one of the strongest favourites of the weekend and the 25-year-old is entered in the short sprint as opposed to the 200m distance in which she holds the world title.
Alongside her, though, the battle for Olympic selection will be fierce. Daryll Neita (Rana Reider, Cambridge Harriers) has been in great form with a PB of 11.04 recently. But also hoping to make their mark as they attack the Olympic standard of 11.15 will be Imani Lansiquot (Steve Fudge, Sutton & District), Asha Philip (Steve Fudge, Newham & Essex Beagles) and Kristal Awuah (Matthew Thomas, Herne Hill).
Individual selection aside, athletes will of course be aiming for relay inclusion too.
Women’s Long Jump
Often a high-quality event at the British Championships in recent years, it has enjoyed a real lift-off lately with firstly Jazmin Saywers (Lance Brauman, City of Stoke) leaping a PB of 6.90m to beat the Olympic qualifying standard of 6.82m. Then Lorraine Ugen (Dwight Phillips, Thames Valley), who was injured during 2020, leapt out to 6.94m in the United States this month.
Abigail Irozuru (Aston Moore, Sale), Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Bertrand Valcin, Liverpool Harriers) and Shara Proctor (Rana Reider, Birchfield) also all have the qualifying mark from 2019 by the way, which means the fight for the first two automatic selection spots will be intense, although Johnson-Thompson is not due to compete.
The metric mile race at the Olympic trials have the potential to be just as exciting as the 800m clashes. Josh Kerr (Danny Mackey, Edinburgh AC) is the fastest on paper going into the men’s event with 3:31.55. The Scottish athlete ran that time in the United States, where he is based most of the year. Many will regard Jake Wightman as the man to beat, though, after his 3:29.47 from last year and the fact he was first Brit home, in fifth, in the world final in 2019.
This is far from a two-horse race, though. Charlie Grice (Brighton Phoenix) has been rounding into form this summer, while rising star Jake Heyward (Mark Rowland, Cardiff) has impressed with a 3:33.99 PB. Better known as an 800m specialist, Elliot Giles ran an eye-catching 3:33.80 this month in Marseille, while the improving Piers Copeland (Bob Smith, Wimborne) has also broken the Olympic standard of 3:35.00.
Look out for reigning British champion George Mills (Jon Bigg, Brighton Phoenix) and former winner Neil Gourley (Ben Thomas, Giffnock North) too in a stacked event.
Women’s Para 100m
Sophie Hahn (Leon Baptiste, Charnwood), Maria Lyle (Jamie Bowie, Team East Lothian) and Libby Clegg (Joe McDonnell, Charnwood) are among a strong line-up of para-athletes in this mixed category sprint race on Sunday afternoon.
They all won gold at the recent WPA European Para Championships in Bydgoszcz, whereas also competing in this race in Manchester are Kadeena Cox (Joe McDonnell, Sale) and Sophie Kamlish (Robert Ellchuk, Team Bath), among others.
Women’s High Jump
Emily Borthwick (Fuzz Caan, Wigan) and Morgan Lake (Fuzz Caan, Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow) have been in fine form this year so far. The improving Borthwick has jumped a 1.93m PB this month, whereas Lake was close to her 1.97m PB with 1.96m during the indoor season and has jumped 1.93m outdoors.
Watch out too for Nikki Manson (Giffnock North), Laura Zialor (Jade Surman, Marshall Milton Keynes) and heptathlete Holly Mills (Laura Turner-Alleyne, Andover) to make an impact too.