Category: Olympics


As the curtains have come down on the most spectacular showpiece of sport on earth and the dust is yet to settle in the arena, just as the cheering of the crowds still resounds around the stands, at the Olympic stadium at Stratford in the wake of nine days of pulsating end-to-end action, the time has come to take a thorough look into the performance of the British team, both on an individual and a collective footing, and assess the gains and losses effected across the board.

Britain claimed four gold medals courtesy of Mo Farah, who accomplished a monumental double over 5000 and 10000m, Jessica Ennis in a UK record in the heptathlon and Greg Rutherford in the long jump to equal their best ever figure post WWII, established initially in Tokyo (1964) and emulated in Moscow (1980), as well as a silver by Christine Ohuruogu over 400m and a bronze from Robbie Grabarz in the high jump for a haul of six medals overall, highest since Sydney in 2000.

Mo Farah storms to a sensational Olympic title ahead of Dejen Gebremeskel (ETH) over 5000m to wrap up a sublime long distance double along with his 10000m gold a week earlier.

All the same, amidst the buzz and excitement of the heroics of Team GB towards an astounding third place in the Olympic medal table the effect of a relative shortfall in minor silverware or top eight places was somewhat tempered, yet there should not escape the fact that there were either alarming or mystifying gaps in the presence of the team that demand addressing.

The Britons registered a sole male finalist, Andie Osagie, in the distances from 100 through to 1500m just as the women came up with a single representative in Ohuruogu at the sharp end of the sprint and hurdle events; puzzling late formation decisions saw both long relays crash out of the top three places where the lack of medals in the women’s jumps felt slightly as an anticlimax seen against the Turkish delight of three gongs earned in Istanbul a few months earlier.

Nevertheless, hope and promise remain robust for the future as burgeoning prospects such as Lawrence Clarke, Laura Weightman, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Adam Gemili and Sophie Hitchon picked up high marks in their first exams on the grand stage while a sound core to the team lies already in place for an even more successful new Olympic cycle leading up to Rio.

So let’s get started with a detailed picture of the statistics of the team’s showing before we move on to an athlete-by-athlete analysis.

MEDALS (6)

Gold Medals (4): Mo Farah (5000 & 10000m), Jessica Ennis (Heptathlon), Greg Rutherford (LJ)

Silver Medals (1): Christine Ohuruogu (400m)

Bronze Medals (1): Robbie Grabarz (HJ)

TOP 8 PLACES (13)

4th places (3): Lawrence Clarke (110mh), Dai Greene (400mh), Men’s 4x400m (Conrad Williams, Jack Green, Dai Greene, Martyn Rooney)

5th places (3): Steve Lewis (PV), Yamile Aldama (TJ), Women’s 4x400m (Shana Cox, Lee McConnell, Christine Ohuruogu, Perri Shakes-Drayton)

6th places (2): Holly Bleasdale (PV), Chris Tomlinson (LJ)

7th places (2): Jo Pavey (5000 & 10000m)

8th places (3): Julia Bleasdale (5000 & 10000m), Andie Osagie (800m)

OTHER FINALISTS (6)

9th places (1): Shara Proctor (LJ)

10th places (1): Lisa Dobriskey (1500m)

11th places (1): Laura Weightman (1500m)

12th places (3): Lawrence Okoye (DT), Sophie Hitchon (HT), Alex Smith (HT)

___________________________________________________________________________

UK RECORDS (3)

Women

Heptathlon: Jessica Ennis 6955

100mh: Jessica Ennis 12.54

HT: Sophie Hitchon  71.98

UK U23 RECORDS (1)

Women

HT: Sophie Hitchon 71.98

UK U20 RECORDS (1)

Women

Heptathlon: Katarina Johnson-Thompson 6267

___________________________________________________________________________

World leading marks (1)

Women

Heptathlon: Jessica Ennis 6955

European leading marks (5 plus a WL)

Men

10000m: Mo Farah 27:30.42

4×400: Conrad Williams, Jack Green, Dai Greene, Martyn Rooney 2:59.53

Women

5000m: Julia Bleasdale 15:02.00

10000m: Jo Pavey 30:53.20

100mh: Jessica Ennis 12.54

UK leading marks (4 plus a WL and 5 ELs)

Men

100m: Dwain Chambers 10.02

800m: Andie Osagie 1:43.77

110mh: Lawrence Clarke 13.31

Women

400m: Christine Ohuruogu 49.70

___________________________________________________________________________

PERSONAL BESTS (11)

Men

800m Andie Osagie 1:43.77

110mh Lawrence Clarke 13.31

Women

200m Margaret Adeoye 22.94

1500m Laura Weightman 4:02.99

5000m Julia Bleasdale 15:02.00, Barbara Parker 15:12.81

10000m Jo Pavey 30:53.20, Julia Bleasdale 30:55.63

Heptathlon Jessica Ennis 6955, Katarina Johnson-Thompson 6267

HT Sophie Hitchon 71.98

Multi-events Individual Personal Bests (9)

Men

100m Daniel Awde 10.71

Women

200m Jessica Ennis 22.83, Katarina Johnson-Thompson 23.73

800m Katarina Johnson-Thompson 2:10.76

100mh Jessica Ennis 12.54, Katarina Johnson-Thompson 13.48 (equal)

HJ Katarina Johnson-Thompson 1.89

JT Jessica Ennis 47.49, Louise Hazell 47.38

OVERALL PERSONAL BESTS: 20

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SEASON BESTS (10)

Men

100m Dwain Chambers 10.02, James Dasaolu 10.13

10000m Mo Farah 27:30.42, Chris Thompson 29:06.14

Marathon Scott Overall 2h22:37

4x400m Conrad Williams, Jack Green, Dai Greene, Martyn Rooney 2:59.53

Women

400m Christine Ohuruogu 49.70

5000m Jo Pavey 15:02.84

Heptathlon Louise Hazell 5856

4x400m Shana Cox, Lee McConnell, Christine Ohuruogu, Perri Shakes-Drayton 3:24.76

Lawrence Clarke was a revelation of the British team as he snatched a highly unexpected fourth in the 110m hurdles having set a PB of 13.31 secs in the semis

Further statistics:

* Jessica Ennis became the third female multi-eventer from the British shores, after Mary Peters and Denise Lewis, to clinch the Olympic title and raise the heptathlon, incorporating its former version of the pentathlon, as the most successful event for the women’s team in the history of the Olympics. Her score of 6955pts was her second UK record, in the same season at that, to see her move 5th in the all-time rankings in the world.

Come to that, Ennis became the first Briton to lay down two individual UK records in an Olympic Games since Linford Christie in 1988 in Seoul, revising markers in the 100 and 200m.

* Mo Farah emerged as the first Brit to ever claim the Olympic summit in both the 5000 and the 10000m as well as fulfilling that particular distinguished distance double in history, the first European since great Finn Lasse Viren (1976) and sixth in history overall. Ian Stewart (bronze, 1972) and Mike McLeod (silver, 1984) were the last Brits to mount the podium over those distances until London.

* No British relay team have turned in a medal at a global outdoor championships since Berlin 2009.

* Andie Osagie set a PB of 1:43.77 in the men’s 800m final that shapes the fastest time by a Brit over the distance since Peter Elliott winning in 1:42.97 in Seville in distant 1990, slotting into fourth in the UK all-time lists. Furthermore, he came the first Olympic finalist from Britain in the event since Curtis Robb, who occupied sixth back in Barcelona 1992.

* Greg Rutherford ended a long wait of 48 years as he turned the first Brit to clinch the ultimate crown, or even a medal, in the long jump since Lynn ‘the leap’ Davies in Tokyo in 1964.

* Britain failed to put up a single male finalist in the 1500m for the first time since 1992.

* Katarina Johnson-Thompson put together her third UK U20 record this season but remained seventh all-time in the global U20 rankings while her PB of 1.89m in the high jump was the highest by a British U20 girl since Susan Moncrieff‘s equal UK U20 record of 1.91m in 1997.

* Sophie Hitchon initiated Britain’s account in Olympic finals in the women’s hammer, reaching her fourth UK record this season and sixth overall in the progress, while Alex Smith brought an end to a 28-year drought without a Briton in the men’s equivalent. The last to do so were Robert Weir, Martin Girvan and Matt Mileham in Los Angeles in 1984.

* No British sprinter has made the 100m final since Sydney 2000 where Dwain Chambers and Darren Campbell placed fourth and sixth respectively. For that matter, Campbell is the last Brit to have won an individual sprint medal as he went on to grab silver over 200m in the very same Olympics.

* Christine Ohuruogu made the first British girl ever to lay her hands on a second individual Olympic medal, in back-to-back Olympics at that, as well as the only one that has dipped inside 50 secs three times over 400m.

* Dai Greene is the first Briton to make the Olympic 400m hurdles final since Kriss Akabussi‘s bronze medal flight in Barcelona 1992 while Lawrence Clarke brought an end to a barren spell since Colin Jackson‘s fifth in Sydney 2000.

* Holly Bleasdale is the first ever female vaulter from the UK to have made the top eight or even make a final, placing sixth, while Steve Lewis attained the highest ever slot in the men’s equivalent with a fine fifth in London.

* Jo Pavey and Julia Bleasdale moved second and third in the 10000m in the British all-time charts through their PBs of 30:53.20 and 30:55.63 respectively, placing seventh and eighth, to double the number of Brits under 31 minutes as they joined legends Paula Radcliffe and Liz McColgan in that territory.

Come to that, they occupied the very same places in the 5000m later into the championships, a quite unusual occurence, where Bleasdale had also improved her PB into 15:02.00 to go eighth in the respective all-time lists.

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The long, gruelling and ruthless race for qualifying standards and places for Team GB in the Olympics is over as British athletes have come past the finish line of July 1 so now it is time for selectors to take stock of what has unfolded and study meticulously form books and performance sheets so that they can draw up the strongest possible side to line up in London.

So far, six athletes have been already selected to represent the country’s colours in the men and women’s marathon, ensuring of a full quota on show apiece, and a further 34 sealed their berths by means of automatic qualification (a top two spot plus at least a ‘current’ A standard) at the recent UK Trials, making a total of 40.

Nevertheless, this crucial session of the selectors panel will not so much be for those sure to figure at the Olympic Stadium in August as for the athletes who have yet to be confirmed on the team, many of whom will have to face long anxious hours to learn of their fate – dreams will be fulfilled but also others will dash to the ground.

But even in the darkest hour, hope may be not all lost still. Any athletes engaged in events that remain with vacancies could still hope to overturn their verdict on appeal as long as they meet the qualifying grounds of IAAF, or even obtain the necessary credentials beyond the UK Athletics but within the former body’s deadline lying on July 8.

Lee Merrien set an example and a precedent as he won his place in the men’s marathon’s team through this route when he finished outside the British A standard of 2h12:00 in the London marathon back in April, on the end of the event’s qualifying period. Yet, his time of 2h13:41 (PB) was lying well within the IAAF benchmark of 2h15:00 so decided to file an appeal that was to be met with success, although initially seeming against the odds.

Therefore, let’s take a look at how the picture of the final British team to compete in London may look like when it comes out tomorrow based on current facts and particulars.

MEN

100m

The men’s dash looked bound for a tense last week with plenty of drama after the UK Trials but the scriptwritters, namely Charles van Commennee and his panel, opted for a bold stroke of indicating early the identity of the two sprinters to join forces with U20 sprint sensation Adam Gemili in the 100m in London; Dwain Chambers and James Dasaolu, the winner and third-placed at the UK Trials, as both were withdrawn from a virtual run-off between main contenders in the backdrop of the Europeans in Helsinki.

Both sprinters hold at least two A standards while Chambers has got also a top eight place in Berlin 2009 added to his credentials so turned perfectly eligible for selection.

 200m

‘e-Bay man’ James Ellington and Deagu captain Christian Malcolm clinched their places as top two finishers in Birmingham, holding a ‘current A’ into the bargain, but it remains doubtful whether a third individual will be entered in the event.

Richard Kilty is the only one among the rest to carry two A qualifiers but is short of fitness coming back from a hamstring injury in a 100m in Arizona last April and seems to have admitted defeat in his cause for good measure.

Therefore, the only alternative could be a discretional call-up to U23 Danny Talbot who may have got only a single A from last summer but mounted the podium at the European Championships in Helsinki and could be considered an investment for the future.

400m

Likewise, Martyn Rooney and Conrad Williams have booked their berths on the team and selectors will most likely feel inclined to go for Nigel Levine, a narrow third in Birmingham, who has displayed smooth flowing form this summer to make up for his lone A qualifier.

800m

World Indoor bronze medallist Andie Osagie qualifies by right after a second UK title on the trot whilst European silver medallist Mike Rimmer seems to have done enough for the selectors, third at the UK Trials, since he was also scratched from the Europeans.

The one that will be sweating until the British team is announced in the media is Welshman Gareth Warburton as he endured a one-off let-down where it mattered most fading off to fourth at the Trials. Otherwise, he has performed consistently well peaking up in a massive PB of 1:44.98 in winning in Oslo but that forms the only A qualifying time in his hands and consequently his fate lies with the selectors. A solo 1:45.81 on a wet track in the heats in Helsinki could count in his favour.

Mukhtar Mohammed, runner-up at the Trials, could have clinched his place if he weren’t short of the A qualifying standard – could he be allowed time to prove his quality until the IAAF cut-off of July 8?

1500m

Andy Baddeley and season revelation Ross Murray are waiting to board the team bus to London but no third runner look likely to follow them. David Bishop, Chris O’Hare and Tom Lancashire have ventured once each in the B qualifying territory but that cannot be enough and James Brewer hasn’t showed sufficient form along the way.

5000m

Nick McCormick came a jubilant runner-up behind winner Ross Millington to turn his current Olympic A of 13:18.81 in Huelva to full advantage and a spot on the British squad while naming world champion Mo Farah is just a matter of formality.

Chris Thompson should get the third place subject to fitness alone as he is recovering from a back injury since Tom Farrell was knocked off contention with a foot stress fracture.

10000m

Mo Farah and Chris Thompson hold the A standard from last year and are certainties to be picked, the latter provided he can be fully fit in time.

Marathon

Scott Overall, Dave Webb and Lee Merrien have been already selected to represent Britain over the ultimate distance in the streets of London.

3000m Steeplechase

Seasoned campaigner Stuart Stokes is the only one to meet qualification criteria with a brace of Bs but is rumoured to be currently injured. If poised to recover timely, he ought to get the nod to compete the Olympics, maybe a debt due after what happened leading up to the previous Games in Beijing.

UK champion Luke Gunn and Rob Mullett have set a B qualifier each so are hanging entirely on the discretion of the selectors to get a potential call instead.

400m hurdles

Rhys Williams‘s victory to complete a full set of medals at the Europeans has eventually earned him the third spot ahead of Nathan Woodward and he will be joining world champion Dai Greene and European U23 champion Jack Green, automatic qualifiers as top two markers in Birmingham.

Long Jump

World joint-leader Greg Rutherford has secured his own place on Team GB and fellow British co-record holder Chris Tomlinson ought to get the nod and the confidence of the selectors although he has been shaky so far, having been striving to make up lost ground. But he has got multiple As from last summer and a proven pedigree on the big stage which should be enough.

JJ Jegede hasn’t achieved either the A or the B standard and his own hopes hang entirely up on a new lease of life in the form of an A qualifier until the IAAF deadline of July 8. On the other hand, last year’s UK champion Julian Reid has been on a poor run of form this season.

Triple Jump

European champion Phillips Idowu missed the Olympic Trials through a slight foot injury but he is certain to be named on the team, the sole representative in Olympics since neither Nathan Douglas nor Larry Achike could make it coming back from serious injuries.

Pole Vault

Twice world finalist Steve Lewis has sewn up his berth for London winning in Birmingham.

High Jump

New European champion Robbie Grabarz has already had his name stamped on the British team sheet and he will be waiting to find out whether he is going to be followed by a home entourage or go it alone in the Arena of the Olympic stadium at Stratford.

Samson Oni has got an A qualifier of 2.31 from the indoor season to rely on for a discretionary call-up though a better display in the final of the European Championships, where he no-heighted, would have probably bolstered up his position.

Martyn Bernard, holding a B at 2.28, and Tom Parsons had close attempts at this very height last weekend to show solid form and hopefully can make a late impact to sneak a place in ‘stoppage time’.

Shot Put

Carl Myerscough‘s second Olympic B and SB of 20.13 in Estonia in the dying stages of qualification period has virtually gained him a place in the sun.

Discus

Lawrence Okoye has added his name to the side’s roll courtesy of his top place at the UK Trials and last year’s British champion Abdul Buhari may have notched his with that crucial late A qualifying distance of 65.24 at the weekend.

Daegu finalist Brett Morse has somewhat found the going tough this season but his runner-up spot in Birmingham combined with his SB of 64.35 in Hendon might pip Myerscough out of the remaining third berth, who somewhat looks to have acknowledged defeat in spite of sitting equal second in the British charts.

Hammer

Mark Dryhas convincingly led most of the way this season, pulling together no less than four Olympic Bs, but a late charge by Alex Smith might turn the tide in his favour at the death, winning the British title and netting two B distances in quick succession. This is going to be so tight…

Javelin

Merwyn Luckwell has been sidelined with a knee complaint recently but his A standard of 82.15m should see him through. In any case, Lee Doran will be waiting in the wings entertaing some slight hopes of an 11ht hour call.

Decathlon

A big PB of 8102pts, highest by a Briton since 2006, totalled in Arona (Spain) in May looks certain to hand Daniel Awde a second Olympic showing on the trot, having competed in Beijing, but with improved prospects this time round.

20km Race Walking

Tom Bosworth came agonizingly close but eventually couldn’t find a way past the B qualifying standard of 1h24:30, therefore the event looks bound to be probably the only male event not to be represented in London.

50km Race Walking

Even though not even a family best, Dominic King shows poised to become the first British race walker to race over the distance since Sydney 2000 on his Olympic B mark of 4h06:34.

4x100m

Once named in the individual 100m, the projected named trio of Chambers, Gemili and Dasaolu will be also automatically inserted into the short relay squad as the UK Athletics policy commands. Simeon Williamson showed that he is hauling back his best form fast with a solid fourth in Birmingham so should be considered a certainty, as should fifth-placed Malcolm who is reckoned an established member of the outfit.

A torn hamstring will probably cost Harry Aikines-Ayreety the final sixth place, a cruel blow after a solid fourth at the Europeans, in which case things may direct attention towards Mark Lewis-Francis.

4x400m

As with the short relay, the trio of Rooney, Williams and Levine is set to be involved with baton-carrying duties. Rob Tobin looks very close to earn a spot while the remaining two should go between Michael Bingham, Richard Buck, Luke Lennon-Ford and maybe former regular lead-off man Andrew Steele.

WOMEN

100m

With Jeanette Kwakye effectively ruled out through injury, Abi Oyepitan and Anyika Onuora will be likely the two Britons to turn up over the women’s dash in London even though they’ve got hold of a sole A qualifier each. Both look set to be named over 200m, the latter having secured an automatic slot, so they should be normally entered in the shorter sprint since already members of the team.

Ashleigh Nelson has shown the potential to edge inside the necessary standard of 11.29 and if she can bring it off until July 8 she could give herself a chance for the third spot.

200m

Margaret Adeoye and Anyika Onuora have booked their berths by right in the event while Abi Oyepitan has virtually ensured her own as well following her second A qualifier in the heats of the Europeans in Helsinki, leading the British lists with 22.71 secs.

400m

Along the same lines, Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu and UK Trials second marker Shana Cox have secured two places outright as top two with a ‘current’ A in Birmingham and Scot Lee McConnell could hope to get the go ahead despite a sole A at the back of her final display in Helsinki.

800m

One thing is for sure, it can’t get any more complicated than that and hardly anyone can grasp how did it all come to such a frightful tangle. Lynsey Sharp has caused a sensation storming through from well behind to snatch a surprise British title and a fine European silver on the bounce, yet is shy of an A qualifier that would have gained her automatic passage; Marilyn Okoro and Emma Jackson sank well behind on some crazy tactics in cold conditions and an untimely fractured rib respectively at the UK Trials; Jenny Meadows is struggling for fitness with an achilles injury for months but still calls for a vote of confidence from the selectors; and Jemma Simpson hung on to a potentially crucial runner-up spot by the skin of her teeth, following up with a final place in Helsinki, but hasn’t really sparkled yet.

Therefore, it is very much a shot in the dark to tell what the final verdict will be. But if a fair play is to be served, there should be two main paths to follow: either pick three athletes outright with the names of Okoro, Jackson and Simpson coming forth on the season’s merits (given that Sharp doesn’t own an A), or go for an initial two selections and name a provisional two or three athletes to draw a third choice on after the IAAF deadline of July 8… A third, more radical, option suggested in some quarters would be to solely name the women in form, namely Sharp, which would have everyone else involved watch the action from the stands in August…

1500m

Steve Cram’s Laura Weightman has tucked away her place following an emphatic victory at the UK Trials and she is certain to be accompanied by world silver medallist Hannah England and Lisa Dobriskey over the ‘metric mile’.

5000m

Julia Bleasdale‘s fabulous runner-up display in a big PB of 15:12.77, an Olympic A, may have earned her a second place on the British outfit alongside Jo Pavey and Barbara Parker, the top duo in Birmingham. By stark contrast, Daegu finalist Helen Clitheroe is struggling for form coming back from injury and looks set to miss out, as does Steph Twell who has been on the sidelines over the last few weeks.

10000m

Bleasdale and Pavey are expected to double up over the longer distance as the only two to fulfil the top drawer qualifying standards.

Marathon

World record holder Paula Radcliffe, Mara Yamauchi and new find Claire Hallissey have been selected carry the British colours in this event.

3000m steeplechase

Eilish McColgan has earned her spurs as winner of the UK Trials, holding a ‘current’ A, and is expected to be joined by new British record holder Barbara Parker, who will be doubling up over the 5K as well. The question is whether Hattie Archer (nee Dean), fourth at the Europeans in Barcelona, can be given a vote of confidence as she is racing herself back to full fitness.

100mh

World indoor silver medallist Tiffany Porter will be the only British in action over the sticks in London as Jessica Ennis, gaining an automatic spot herself in Birmingham, will be focussing her efforts in the heptathlon. Beijing finalist Sarah Claxton has skimmed outside the B standard but that wouldn’t have been sufficient to earn her a ticket anyway.

400mh

Perri Shakes-Drayton and Eilidh Child have wrapped up their places in style and will be heading to the Olympics but Meghan Beesley came up short in an all-or-nothing last crack at the Europeans in Helsinki.

High Jump

No female British high jumper have reached even the B qualifying region (1.92m) and consequently the event won’t have any British presence in the Olympics.

Pole Vault

World indoor bronze medallist Holly Bleasdale and Kate Dennison have secured automatic spots where it is unknown whether U20 Katie Byres, posting an A qualifier on the boards, might be afforded a chance to draw priceless experience in the hustle and bustle of the Olympic environment.

Long Jump

New British record holder Shara Proctor has got her place in the bag and is focussing entirely on her build-up to London but U23 revelation Abigail Irozuru will be sweating until she learns her fate as she hasn’t managed to back up her huge PB and A qualifier of 6.80m in Sofia, relying heavily on the selectors discretion.

Also U23 Lorraine Ugen came short by the narrowest of margins (6.74m) at the UK Trials but hasn’t competed since so that she could gain a footing in the top tier of qualifying territory.

Triple Jump

World indoor champion Yamile Aldama is expected to be named in the British squad and lay a claim on that elusive Olympic medal.

Shot Put

Eden Francis suffered heartbreak as she came close to a second B qualifier with a last-ditch 17.10m at the weekend and will be laying her hopes with the selection panel to grant her an opening.

Discus

Jade Nicholls took the burden of qualification off her shoulders with a brace of Bs on the double early in the season but she has been going backwards rather than forwards since so she will be feeling far from safe until Olympic selections come out.

Hammer

As soon as she landed the implement out at 71.61m in San Diego, Sophie Hitchon had ensured of a place and went on to cap it with a comfortable win at the UK Trials on a fabulous run of form. Despite enjoying solid seasons, neither Sarah Holt or Zoe Derham managed to make the grade.

Javelin

Goldie Sayers has long been a certainty for selection and stamped her berth in winning the British title by a huge margin.

Heptathlon

Jessica Ennis and U20 sensation Katarina Johnson-Thompson have ensured of their places with impressive displays on the circuit and Commonwealth champion Louise Hazell looks to have got the nod as well following her withdrawal from the Europeans in Helsinki, making for a full complement for Britain in the event.

20km Race Walking

Commonwealth champion Jo Jackson has long laid the foundations for her selection to the team having comfortably bagged an A qualifying time from last year.

4x100m

Following the disaster of disqualification in the heats of the Europeans in Helsinki, there will be no British team to contest the event which is a sad prospect and a blow for the women’s sprints.

4x400m

Like with the men, Christine Ohuruogu and Shana Cox, the two outright individual qualifiers from the UK Trials, are automatically entered and from there on the hurdles duo of Perri Shakes-Drayton and Eilidh Child along with Lee McConnell and Nicola Sanders look poised to fall in the make-up of the six-strong long relay team.

Initiating a new regular series drifting way down Memory Lane, let’s recall great Scot Alan Wells outleaning Cuban Silvio Leonard, one of a less than a handful sprinters to have dipped under 10 secs at the time, on the line to snatch the first British gold over 100m in the Olympics since legendary Harold Abrahams in Paris 1924, laying the ghost of 56 years without a title to rest.

The winning time did not strike so spectacular, 10.24 secs on a tailwind of 1.6m/sec, but Wells said afterwards that despite the wind reading on the gauge he felt like running into a headwind from lane eight, a notion that could be backed up by the fact that he had run an easy-looking UK record of 10.11 secs in the semifinals earlier on.

On the occasion of the countdown into the final hundred days to London Olympics, Team GB go out into the streets of the British capital to get the sense of views and feelings on the ground in anticipation of the greatest showpiece on earth.

Official sponsors ADIDAS and leading designer Stella McCartney, the daughter of famous ‘Beatle’ Paul, have launched the official Team GB kit that will be donned by British athletes during the London Olympic Games in summer, marked with a prominent spread of shades of indigo blue but also a striking absence of St George’s red stripes in the depicted Union Jack.

The premiere was held at the Tower Of London today and employed a large group of around 30 British international athletes across a range of Olympic sports, such as Sir Chris Hoy, Vicky Pendleton, Phillips Idowu and Jessica Ennis, that modelled the performance line through a variety of items like competition kit, training gear and footwear.

Nevertheless, despite the delight of several top stars involved at the outcome, the concept of a deconstructed Union Jack incorporated into parts of the outfits has roused heavy controversy, debate and criticism around Britain, with the conspicuous absence of red (at best squeezed into a thin strip around the neck) forming the bone of contention in the issue.

McCartney, the Creative Director on the project, defended her design saying “I wanted to start with the union flag, but I’m really aware the reds, whites and blues are in other nations’s flags and sometimes you can feel quite confused when you are watching the Games… is that American, is that French? I wanted to make it slightly more delicate and have more texture.”

Taking her up on this point, however, there begs the question why a vest bearing a full British flag wouldn’t make the British team more easily recognisable in the various arenas, or why would anyone get more confused. Or, turning to a chief argument widely deployed around, why the new kit would inject more unity into the team than a more British colours-oriented one?

At the same time, McCartney comes to contradict her earlier statement, as if trying to salvage a compromise, saying “It’s very recognisable still, I’ve represented all the parts of Great Britain. There’s a lot of red in there, but in a non-traditional way..”

On the ground of performance, one shouldn’t have the slightest doubt that the new Olympic kit is state-of-the-art and streamlined to offer the best possible competitive benefits and advantages to British athletes in their exertions to mount the best ever medal haul in history.

So, what do you make of the Team GB kit that will parade around the various Olympic venues of London in summer? Is it really an ingenious concept or a blunder on the part of ADIDAS? Personally, I do find myself quite fancying the cycling and men’s athletics kit, yet red ought to have taken its righteous place into the Union Jack thereon, but I also reckon the women’s respective outfit comes across quite dull and uninspiring the other way round.

BBC Story

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17457729

Past British Olympic Kits

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17474959

Christian Taylor opens up by addressing a message to great Jonathan Edwards saying “Thankyou for leading the way, it’s now time for us to move up the way” in a great feature on the world champion in the triple jump by Trans World Sport.

The sky looks the limit for the young American who is riding on the confidence and the buzz of his stunning triumph in Daegu, nailing a superb 17.96m to deny Phillips Idowu a second global title on the trot, and setting his sights as far as an ‘extraterrestrial’ potential world record of 18.50m in the future.

Of course, Edwards’s overwhelming milestone of 18.29m, set in Gothenburg 1995, still stands a class apart and Taylor has got massive ground to make but he has shown the potential to reach very far. He isn’t particularly consistent through his series, more of having one or two big jumps in him in a competition, but when his technique comes together he really strikes fear around as to what he is going to achieve deep into the pit.

Edwards, incidentally, is the first to admit that Taylor has got the makings to claim his world record but hopes that doesn’t come too soon for him, also featuring in the video, while Florida-based Teddy Tamgho is on hand to offer his view on a cameo.

Personally speaking, I think he could be the main threat to Idowu’s own aspirations of wrapping up the ‘grand slam’ of titles in London, rather than the Frenchman, and the Briton will probably have to go out hard and nail a big distance from early on to place the American under pressure.

Taylor’s ambitions aren’t confined only on the infield as he intends to have a serious first season over 400m too and he is no slouch in that quarter either; in 2009, he ran a world-class 45.34 secs as an U20 and also ran a solid 45.46 secs last spring, so it is going to be really intriguing to see how fast he can go.

Robbie Grabarz may not feature in any of NIKE’s  latest commercials but looks bent on making it (2012) count and stretch a fairytale journey all the way up to London, brimming with confidence and prepared to gamble if need arises along the way.

Such a wager paid off handsomely last night at the high jump meeting at Wuppertal, Germany, as he followed his hunches to pass over his remaining two attempts at a would-be Olympic A standard of 2.32m, having cleared a PB of 2.30m first time out, and go for broke at a daunting 2.34m against Deagu silver medallist Aleksey Dmitrik, who had succeeded for a world-leading mark instead.

Both failed at the first call, the Russian holding the edge, but the Briton rose magnificently to the challenge next time out on the run-up to soar over a massive PB in his effective last attempt and snatch victory out of the hands of his top opponent, who couldn’t find a way back.

It is dreamland to the full effect of the word, as well as most unfamiliar surroundings, where Grabarz landed steering clear of the bar to stand on top of the world rankings and gain the driving seat in the tussle for places on the British team.

Even more so considering that it is roughly three months since he was axed from UK Athletics funding scheme along with the rest of the high jumpers. By stark contrast, he is now developing into a world class athlete that could fancy his changes of a medal at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul and dare dream of a lot more beyond that.

On top of that, the 24-year-old NEB jumper finds himself equal third in the British all-time lists indoors and outdoors combined behind only greats Steve Smith (2.38) and Dalton Grant,  leaping seven places at a single sroke. Surreal but nice!

Samson Oni had to endure a rather indifferent day as he stayed low at only 2.19m off the back of an encouraging season debut of 2.26m last week.

Incidentally, Smith also set his ultimate British marker in the very same arena back in 1994.

Results

http://www.leichtathletik.de/results/4544_wuppertal_hoch-mae_210112.pdf

Robbie Grabarz’s world-leading clearance from a better angle

UK All-time lists (combined)

1.Steve Smith 2.38i (1994)/2.37 (1992 & 1993)

2.Dalton Grant 2.37i (1994)/2.36 (1991)

3.Germayne Mason 2.34 (2008)

– Robbie Grabarz 2.34i (2012)/2.28 (2010 & 2011)

5.Brendan Reilly 2.32i (1994)/2.31 (1992)

6.Geoff Parsons 2.31 (1994)

– Samson Oni 2.31i (2010)/2.30 (2008)

– Tom Parsons 2.31i (2011)/ 2.30 (2008)

9.Ben Challenger 2.30 (1999)

– Martyn Bernard 2.30 (2008)

The British Miler

The British Miler, launched by New Balance at the famous Armory in New York on Thursday, is a new multi-platform initiative that tracks the build-up of seven main contenders in the battle for three places on offer on the British Olympic team in the men’s 1500m in London.

Those seven hopefuls, a rather symbolic number, are Beijing finalist Andy Baddeley, James Brewer, Ricky Stevenson, Tom Lancashire, Colin McCourt, Lee Emanuel and Nick McCormick. The three first, incidentally, get their track season underway over the mile at the New Balance Games at the very same ground tonight, joined also by Colin McCourt and Mark Draper.

Actually, Brewer described the official launch of the project as one of the most surreal nights of his life on Facebook as it also captures magical moments of the golden past from the days of Sir Roger Bannister, the man who first broke the myth of the 4 minutes over the distance, and Derek Ibbotson up to the ‘Great Three’ of the late 70s & 80s in Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram.

The official premiere on British soil is to be held on February 23 in London.

As concerns London contenders, I would also like to add the names of James Shane and Niall Brooks while there shouldn’t be ruled out a big breakthrough by the likes of Adam Cotton, Stephen Davies, Chris O’Hare and Kris Gauson.

Friday the 13th seems to come a week late in Ethiopia as the national athletics body (EAF) have reportedly come out to suspend indefinitely no less than 36 internationals from either domestic or international competitions in a season that contains such an ultimate sport showpiece as the Olympics, held in London.

Could Kenenisa Bekele be left ouf of Ethiopia’s Olympic team and barred from defending his Olympic double in London?

The news comes all the more striking since among the names set out are some athletics superstars like Olympic champions Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba, as well as top distance character Meselech Melcamu, who might be rendered unable to defend their titles should the sanctions remain in place by July.

The grounds behind that wide clean-up are that the athletes in question failed to report for national team training and participate in required sessions therein since the national governing body has demanded that a certain strength of a 223 Olympic hopefuls should prepare under its overseeing.

Technical director Mr. Dubie Jilo appears rather unmoved at the prospect of Ethiopia lining up without several major medal contenders in London and warned that the athletes concerned either comply with the commands of the national body or a new crop of athletes will be brought on in the Olympics.

The decision, however, hasn’t met with the sentiments of the Ethiopian fans who have already started protesting largely online.

http://www.letsrun.com/2012/ethiopia-0119.php

UK Athletics Head Coach Charles van Commennee overviews a successful past year for the British colours in track and field and looks forward to a most challenging Olympic season lying ahead.