As the outdoor season gathers pace swinging off the top bend and into the run-in to Daegu, the UK Trials assume the stage to set the scene for the British challenge for silverware and entertain the country’s best athletes who will be vying for those priceless places on the team bound to represent Britain at the World Championships over the next three days. The venue will be a refurbished ‘Brum’ at the heart of the Midlands in Birmingham and the background is set with no less than seven national records headed by a new European mark by Mo Farah in the men’s 10000m, a best ever haul of Diamond/Golden League wins in history and a host of top tier performances across the board.

Therefore, anticipation and tension is building up sharply as the clock is ticking away the hours to the outset of the Trials tomorrow as enthralling and gripping contests are looming on all corners of the arena. This is the moment of truth, this is the crunch and the time to reap the rewards for the endeavours and pains of a whole year leading up to this point. Of course, not all is going to be decided now, with plenty at stake still all along the following week peaking in the Diamond League meeting at Crystal Palace next weekend. But every athlete that finishes in the top two of an event and holds the respective UK Athletics A standard gains an automatic berth on the British team while a top three placing could offer a solid foothold into the reckoning.

Apart from already mentioned above Mo Farah, established top names like Phillips Idowu, Jessica Ennis, Christine Ohuruogu, Dai Greene, Lisa Dobriskey, Jenny Meadows, Dwain Chambers and Andy Turner as well as up-and-coming stars of the likes of Perri Shakes-Drayton, Holly Bleasdale, Hannah England, Lawrence Okoye, Jack Green will parade before the spectators and the viewers making for a pulsating three days of action.

Hopefully, weather will turn an ally and back the efforts of the athletes the whole three days through, with warm temperatures and slight breezes.

==================================================================

Timetable, Start-lists & Results

http://www.uka.org.uk/aviva-series/aviva-uk-trials-uk-championships/discipline-list/

==================================================================

News nuggets leading up to the British showdown

James Dasaolu is forced to miss the remainder of the summer due to a serious hamstring injury he sustained in the early days of the season and subsequently won’t be able to bid for any place, either individual or in the short relay, on the British team for Daegu. The promising sprinter started strongly in a 10.11 secs clocking in late May but was able only to run a heat in 10.24 secs at Chaux-des-Fonds afterwards, which was meant to be his swansong for this summer – pretty much in the same manner as last year. Hopefully, he’ll be back fully fit and healthy to display in full flow his rich vein of talent.

Laura Whittingham has been a welcome late entry for the women’s javelin on Sunday, still needing one more B standard to get selected.

Both British top long jumpers Greg Rutherford and Chris Tomlinson have withdrawn from the Trials through slight training injuries but should be expected to be back in action in very short time – as a matter of fact, Rutherford has already tweeted that he expects to jump next weekend at the Palace.

European finalist Jemma Simpson is getting round the UK Trials since she couldn’t be ready in time to do herself justice and will be going for broke in the 800m at the Diamond League meeting at Crystal Palace next weekend.

Former Commonwealth silver medalist Chris Baillie has withdrawn from the 110m hurdles due to an ongoing abductor problem.

Andy Vernon looks to have tracked Mo Farah‘s switch over to the 5000m scratching from the 10000m and the 3000m steeplechase where he was initially entered. He is lying narrowly outside the B standard on a PB of 13:27.85 but he is going to need to grind out two Bs out of his last two races to make it on the British team.

Charlotte Purdue has finally withdrawn from the women’s 10000m despite initially confirming her entry so we have to wait longer until we see her racing on the track again.

Barbara Parker has moved to the 1500m and Eilish McColgan to the 5000m from the women’s steeplechase.

Dai Greene has switched to the flat 400m, apparently on some speedwork, leaving the event wide open for the taking between Jack Green, Nathan Woodward and Rhys Williams.

Chris Thompson has withdrawn from the 1500m and Mo Farah has stepped up to the 5000m at the same time… Hope Thommo is going to be 100% ready to race at Crystal Palace the following weekend but somehow I don’t fall in line with Mo’s option – far too many 5ks within a few weeks.

Perri Shakes-Drayton is down for both the flat and the hurdles 400m but the two events overlap so she’s probably going to have to pick between the two.

Hopefully we’re going to see Charlotte Pardue race for the first time on the track this season as she has confirmed her entry in the women’s 10000m at the Trials, having undergone surgery in May.

Vicky Hubbard has also confirmed hers in the high jump, hopefully her first outing this season.

Former European bronze medallist Sam Ellis has confirmed his presence in Birmingham though he is heading there as an unknown quantity having not raced since early June.

New European U20 double sprint queen Jodie Williams doesn’t show in the women’s 100m start-lists at the moment, where the 200m lists are yet to come out.

James Dasaolu doesn’t appear on the men’s 100m lists so far either, his last race a heat in 10.24 secs at Chaux-des-Fonds.

European champion Andy Turner will be running the odd 100m rather than the sprint hurdles apparently on some speedwork at the UK Trials this weekend.

Commonwealth finalist David Hughes has scratched from the 400m hurdles with a torn hamstring, among the most hotly contested and anticipated events of the Trials. Not a serious injury but enough to rule him out of the showdown.

Both Mo Farah and Chris Thompson are entered in the 1500m which is good news either way!

Hattie Dean and Charlene Thomas don’t appear in the 3000m ‘chase and 1500 or 800m respectively. A little worrying at this point of the season…
Simeon Williamson apparently won’t be contesting a tight men’s 100m.

====================================================================

DAY I

Christine Ohuruogu and Perri Shakes-Drayton have comfortably qualified through their heats in winning ways in the women’s 400m to set up a mouth-watering clash in the final tomorrow, turning in the two fastest times in the process, but Jack Green was forced to withdraw from the men’s 400m hurdles battle through illness to see his hopes of gaining an individual berth for Daegu all but end.

In fact, Olympic champion Ohuruogu went off to a blinder of a start (reaction 0.121) that even top sprinters would be green with envy of to gain a swift hold of the fourth and final heat before easing to a 52.08 secs win, her second fastest this season, but one should also take note of Lee McConnell‘s close finish in 52.23 secs for a comprehensive second suggesting that she could pose a danger – her sixth B qualifier come to that!

In the previous heat, European 400m hurdles bronze medalist Shakes-Drayton had easily dominated in an even more striking manner in 52.19 secs to spare plenty of daylight on Nicola Sanders, who was content to secure the second automatic spot in 52.81 secs, while Shana Cox notched up the opening run in 52.51 secs ahead of Kelly Sotherton (52.94).

Shakes-Drayton, however, has got to ensure that she saves up well in the heats of her specialist event earlier at noon tomorrow and give herself a fair chance to complete a rare flat/hurdle double in the championships, which she is most capable of. In the A final four hours later, she goes in lane five just outside Ohuruogu and with Cox and Sanders in her sights on the outside.

The highly anticipated men’s 400m hurdles battle royal received a huge blow when new European U23 champion Jack Green announced his withdrawal through illness, tonsilitis, to leave the way totally open to his two major rivals, Nathan Woodward and Rhys Williams, to claim the two much coveted top two places in the final that effectively lead to Daegu.

According to the selection policy, the first two claim automatic qualification provided they hold the A standard, as both Woodward and Williams do, while the third place is certain to go to European champion Dai Greene who is trying his hand over the flat 400m. Therefore, Green’s hopes hang by a thread.

On the track, Woodward was an easy victor of the second heat in 50.56 secs and Williams grabbed the fourth in an identical 50.58 secs to set up a duel between them for the spoils in the final, nevertheless Rick Yates showed quite lively to post the fastest time through in a SB of 50.24 secs from the opening section and could fancy his chances to spoil the party. As a matter of fact, he comes from a PB of 21.6 secs over 200m and it’s going to be intriguing to see how that translates into his times.

All top names were through without any problems in the men’s dash but a slight surprise package was Ricky Fifton to post the second fastest time in a big SB of 10.32 secs (0.9m/sec) as he hadn’t shown much up to now this term. Hot favourite Dwain Chambers was head and shoulders over the second heat in 10.46 secs into a strong headwind (-2.3m/sec) while Mark Lewis-Francis got the fastest time of 10.30 secs (-0.2m/sec) out of the first round to show that he means serious business and Christian Malcolm looked smooth in winning the final heat in 10.38 secs (-0.1m/sec).

Laura Turner was the most impressive out of the preliminary round of the women’s 100 as she clinched the second heat in 11.50 secs (0.5m/sec) and Montell Douglas showed as though she could be a factor in taking the third in 11.55 secs (0.1m/sec). Jeanette Kwakey and Anyika Onuora won, as expected, the remaining two sections in 11.61 (0.1m/sec) and 11.46 (2.0m/sec) respectively.

There were no surprises in the women’s 800m first round where Jenny Meadows must have been pleased to see that none has gained any ground on her on the international stage as Semenya Caster sank deep in eighth and Cuban Yuniesi Santiusti looked like talling off in Stockholm at the same time. Marilyn Okoro, Emma Jackson, Lyndsay Sharp and sensational U17 Jessica Judd all advanced to join her in the semifinals tomorrow.

On the men’s side, however, European U23 bronze medalist Muchtar Mohammed suffered a fall to miss out in a very slow second heat that was won by a lively again Niall Brooks, fourth at the World U20 Championships last summer. Mike Rimmer moved through in the fastest time of 1:50.46 followed closely by a revamped Steve Fennell in 1:50.58 and Andie Osagie eased to a comfortable 1:51.53 top place in the final heat.

Hannah England, Lisa Dobriskey and Stacey Smith cruised through the heats of the women’s 1500m where steeplechaser Barbara Parker showed intent to test the specialists as she set the fastest time in winning the first semifinal in a SB of 4:17.61. The worrying news, however, is that missing Charlene Thomas could be doubtful even for Crystal Palace next weekend and that could give selectors a headache depending mainly on how Smith fares in the final.

The first UK title went over to Alex Smith who unleashed a PB of 73.26m in the hammer, farthest by a Briton in seven years, in the fifth round that takes him closer to the B qualifying standard of 74m – yet, he still needs a brace of them and has got only a week available to find them. Mike Floyd was second at 70.85m and Mark Dry third at 70.33m.

World U20 silver medalist Laura Samuel showed to recapture her form and fighting insticts even late as she found herself with her back to the wall when Yasmine Regis sneaked the lead with a 13.61m (1.2m/sec) in the last round to grind out an immediate response of a SB of 13.67m (0.8m/sec) and snatch gold back at the death. Pre-event slight favourite Nadia Williams never really got into it and had to do with third well behind at 13.37m (-0.3m/sec).

====================================================================

DAY II

The men’s 100m final where Dwain Chambers edged through to retain his UK title

Dwain Chambers has confirmed that he remains the unrivaled sprint king of Britain as he came through in the late stages to clinch the men’s title and Jeanette Kwakey returned to her throne after three years as they both convincingly claimed the respective races in the men and women’s 100m in Birmingham.

The men’s dash final was full of drama and suspense even before the sprinters finally set out on their way as European silver medalist Mark Lewis-Francis false-started, getting with his back to the wall as concerns qualification once again, and Craig Pickering didn’t turn up to narrow the battle for medals substantially. As the gun went off at the second time of asking, it was Harry Aikines-Ayreety and a fluent Marlon Devonish that slipped quicker into their stride, with Christian Malcolm looking smooth on a fastest for ten years A standard of 10.17 secs (0.9m/sec) in the semis, while Chambers was slightly behind despite getting a good reaction.

The leading pair kept driving and fighting hard stride by stride to mount pressure on the World indoor champion but the new-look version of Chambers told over the last 30m as he powered through to victory in a fast 10.09 secs (1.2m/sec), gaining his place for Daegu, while Aikines-Ayreety and Devonish finished tied behind in 10.14 secs, the former (10.16 semifinal) awarded the photofinish verdict and a marginal second automatic place. Nevetheless, despite missing out in third the Coventry man looked to have made a sound case for himself over the third remaining spot in a big SB and fastest time in two years while Malcolm wrapped up a very good campaign in 10.21 secs for fourth.

By contrast, there was no question whatever about the authority of Kwakye in the women’s final, a little earlier on, as she blasted off to a lightning start that left everyone else chasing shadows and cruised to a comfortable win in 11.23 secs (0.8m/sec)and booking her berth on the team, a fabulous return to form  and the British peak after two years in the twilight. Season revelation Anyika Onuora overcame a modest start to come through and grab the second automatic place in 11.36 secs ahead of Laura Turner, who set 11.39 secs but looks poised to get the nod over the third slot nonetheless.

UK record holder Montell Douglas was fourth in 11.54 slightly ahead of a tied pair of veteran Joice Maduaka and returning prodigy Asha Philip in 11.57 secs to as good as ensure of a relay berth.

Christine Ohuruogu after the women’s 400m final