Category: Selection Policies

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.



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in the 100m in London; Dwain Chambers and James Dasaolu, the winner and third-placed at the UK Trials, as both were withdrawn from a virtual run-off between main contenders in the backdrop of the Europeans in Helsinki.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.


‘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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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…


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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…


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’.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


In the aura of anticipated pulsating end-to-end action and stirring contests on the track and the infield, there are several British matters to be settled at the AVIVA Grand Prix in Birmingham today either in terms of challenging national records or clinching late places on the British team for Istanbul incorporated in.

So let’s have a look through what could be on offer in a few hours, starting with potential bids for UK records.

Men’s 2 miles

It’s hard to see how John Mayock‘s landmark of 8:17.06, set on this very arena 10 years ago, can possibly survive the onslaught of Mo Farah, save some disaster, or Emiel Puttemans (BEL) haunted European record of 8:13.2 (1973) come to that. The world 5000m champion is in frightening shape and overflowing with pace so has got to run over those marks and even force his way inside the territory of the very great, 8:10 that is.

The finale of the meeting has been specially reserved for his venture and he will enjoy some quality company along in his quest in the shape of Eliud Kipchoge (KEN), Tariku Bekele (ETH) and Moses Kipsiro (UGA).

Jonny Mellor, Stephen Davies and Mark Mitchell get a rare opportunity to race against such calibre opposition and could seriously revise their record books either over the full distance or at 3000m.

Women’s Pole Vault

Every time Holly Bleasdale steps into an arena the UK record simply lies on the line and so should be the case today. Some late technical tweaks to her vaulting model must have bedded in a lot more by now and something around 4.90m has got to be well on the cards today.

It’s a shame that German Sielke Spiegelburg (4.77) has pulled out of the contest late as she could have provided some hot competition up to dizzy heights but hopefully former world champion Anna Rogowska could step into her stead in that regard.

A further UK record, an U20 one, could be looked for in Katie Byres but beyond the British shores in France as she will be attempting to rewrite her 4.37m from the UK Trials in Sheffield last weekend.

Women’s Long Jump

Long has endured time Susan Heanshaw‘s 6.70m, set twice in winning gold at the European Indoor Championships in 1984, and even survived by the skin of its teeth when Jo Wise tied it at the World Indoor Championships in 1997 but its time to make way may have finally come as Shara Proctor indicated through an indoor best just a couple of centimetres shy last weekend.

She has been very consistent in the 6.6m province this term, ranging therein in all her three outings, and if she clicks on the day a mark in the high 6.7m region shouldn’t be ruled out.

Men’s High Jump

Robbie Grabarz has made talk of targetting Steve Smith‘s mighty record of 2.38m but it is maybe very early for that to arrive today even though his clearance over his PB of 2.34m suggested there is more to come. Smith was jumping regularly around 2.34 to 2.37m in his time so such a platform may be required. Nevertheless, nothing can be dismissed but the World Indoor Championships look like a more likely occasion to challenge heights in that sphere.

Samson Oni is in that one too and will be eyeing to rewrite his PB of 2.31m, which he has tied this winter, against some good field involving Donald Thomas (BAH), Andra Manson (USA) and Michal Kabelka (SVK).

Women’s 3000m

Helen Clitheroe could have an outside chance of replacing Jo Pavey at the top of the UK indoor lists with the British barrier lying at 8:31.50 from Stuttgart five years ago. She has wintered superbly and goes off a substantially better starting-point of 8:45.59, set in Glasgow last month, than last year when she set her PB of 8:39.81 en route to winning the European title in Paris.

Moving over to run-offs for places in Istanbul now, so let’s see what could lie in store in the following events.

Men’s 60m

Following the withdrawals of Simeon Williamson and Mark Lewis-Francis, the battle for the second spot alongside Dwain Chambers narrows down to Andrew Robertson and Harry Aikines-Ayreety, the runner-up and third-placed at the UK Trials respectively, who face off with each other in the second heat.

It’s a tricky situation as Robertson will not only need to hold off his rival but also dip inside his week-old PB of 6.61 secs even by a mere hundredth. Otherwise, Aikines-Ayreety could snatch a place even in the event of a defeat as he holds the qualifying standard from last winter.

Asafa Powell, Lerone Clarke, Nesta Carter and Michael Frater make up a poweful Jamaican quartet to fight it out for top honours and fast times while evergreen Kim Collins will be hoping that his hamstring will last the demanding task of two fast rounds, having pulled up in both his previous two outings.

Men’s 400m

The virtual run-off will be, sadly, accommodated in the national race that kicks off the meeting’s schedule and inevitably slip outside TV coverage. UK Trials runner-up Michael Bingham lies in a similar position as Robertson in the 60m since he needs to find a time inside 46.90 secs and beat Rirhard Buck again, the latter looking more flowing but often having run into sorts of troubles in his races.

Therefore, it is going to be touch-and-go while none should rule out a late stunner by Conrad Williams who has shown very sharp in the shorter sprints this season – and Luke Lennon-Ford might spring a surprise having been shifted to the main race alonside Nigel Levine.

Men’s 1500m

Andy Baddeley is more likely opt for the 3000m by the look of his racing pattern so James Brewer has got the simple task of showing his form to be named alongside also-competing Lewis Moses and he’s capable of more than that, having displayed potential to go under 3:40.

Men’s 60m hurdles

Lawrence Clarke needs just the qualifying time to make the cut and is lying an agonising 0.03 secs off dreamland (7.65). Could he do it?

Andy Pozzi has got the chance to take his game inside 7.6 secs on the back of an amazingly consistent season in the wake of a mighty contest brewing up between hurdles heavyweights Dayron Robles (CUB) and Xiang Liu (CHN), although none should discount latest American find Kevin Craddock.

Women’s 60m

Following the withdrawal of sensational Jodie Williams (food poisoning), Asha Philip should not have much trouble clinching that second spot, provided she doesn’t slip into any unnecessary mistake, and has shown the credentials to drive even under 7.2 secs.

Laura Turner will have to run out of her skin to upset her lining up in the same heat whereas Jeanette Kwakye won’t have any such concerns and set her eyes on improving her SB of 7.20 secs from last weekend.

Women’s 400m

Normally, Nicola Sanders shouldn’t be interested in anything more than probably a relay place for Istanbul as she is employing a short indoor stint by means of a gauge of her build-up so Nadine Okyere would occupy the remaining spot behind Shana Cox regardless of the result, but until that is confirmed this duel can be also considered as a run-off.

Anticipation and tension is building up sharply as the indoor season picks up to the crunch for the majority of hopefuls to pull on a British vest at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul in March, with a crucial last nine days up to the selection deadline marked with the UK Trials in Sheffield across the weekend.

Each athlete that tops an event over the next couple of days gains automatic selection provided they have achieved the qualifying standard set by UK Athletics as far as the cut-off, with the rest of the make-up of the team lying with the selectors.

There won’t be any such concerns on the mind of Jessica Ennis, though, as she has taken up the invitation extended by IAAF on the merit of her world ranking, the very holder of the global title in the pentathlon.

Britain’s golden girl is expected to dominate the limelight in an arena that feels like a second home to her as she is down for the high jump, the shot, the 60m hurdles and the long jump to effectively simulate a pentathlon but spread over two days.

So let’s have a look at how events look likely to shape up over the next two days in Sheffield, starting with the ladies.

60m (7.30/11.25 100m)

The women’s dash could have hardly turn any tighter and has got all the makings of a gripping thriller, likely to come down to a blanket finish between even up to five contenders. Apart from sheer speed, strength and composure may come in handy across three gruelling rounds back-to-back on Sunday.

Asha Philip has staged an astonishing comeback to form out of years in the shadows to storm to a UK-leading 7.24 secs at the London Games three weeks ago, looking fluent and powerful again, so is holding a slight edge going into the showdown.

As importantly, she maintained her nerve to cope brilliantly with the pressure of racing U20 sprint sensation Jodie Williams alongside, beating her twice on the same day – not many can boast that around!

Incidentally, she is rumoured to have left Mike McFarlane‘s group since summer although that will hardly have any bearing on the affair.

A silver medallist in Valencia four years ago, Jeanette Kwakye is back to her very best and literally demolished the field in a British runner-up mark of 7.26 secs at the AVIVA International but on the slower track of Kelvin Hall in Glasgow, therefore she should be regarded on an equal footing in the battle for top honours.

Laura Turner set 7.29 secs, her fastest ever leading up to a UK Trials, behind Ivet Lalova (BUL) in France last weekend so seems to be hitting form at the right time, having also tweaked her dynamics, while seasoned campaigner Abi Oyepitan has also returned on top of her game in 7.31 secs showing plenty of consistency into the bargain.

Williams, for her part, has raced sparingly and is lying slightly down on last year at this stage although that could turn round radically as soon as she settles in her blocks for her first round heat. She is a renowned fierce competitor and relishes rising to the occasion so none to take lightly.

Anyika Onuora showed race-rusty in her only showing so far, setting only 7.57 secs, and has got lots of ground to make where the distance may come a little too short for the strength of Margaret Adeoye, more suited to the 200m. Improving Annabelle Lewis and talented U20 Sophie Papps could surprise a few.

200m (non-major championship event)

Adeoye, a shock winner in Glasgow, is playing on her own ground here and stands head and shoulders above anyone else in the field so probably setting her eyes mainly on the clock and a new PB. Louise Bloor is a shade away from the sub 24 secs region and U23 now Jenny Batten could spring a surprise second.

400m (53.25i/51.25)

Nicola Sanders steps on an indoor track on racing terms for the first time since her sensational triumph at the European Indoor Champs in Birmingham 2007 in a UK record of 50.02 secs, fifth fastest all-time, and she will be raring to mark a new chapter to her career and haul back into top form.

She is held to have enjoyed a smooth winter build-up, spending a lengthy spell down in South Africa, which forms a solid platform to her campaign for starters. After all, talent has never been an issue with her, it is all about keeping in one piece.

Perri Shakes-Drayton has pulled out to take some gloss off what looked like a potential highlight of the Trials but Sanders still faces off with a worthy rival in Shana Cox, who has the potential to go places in the event.

However, she looked in deep waters round the tight bends of the Kelvin Hall recently, as though she hadn’t been on an indoor track for ages, so will have to pare down that margin on the curb to give herself a fair chance. Her SB of 53.08 secs in the heats of the Birmingham Games was a good sign in that respect.

Relay places will be up for grabs as well and Nadine Okyere comes in first in the shake-up on a recent indoor best of 53.43 secs behind Vania Stambolova (BUL) in Vienna, plus PBs in the sprints, while a burgeoning Emily Diamond could turn a revelation having smashed her PB into 54.19 secs last weekend.

From there on, Laura Langowski, Emma Pullen, Kirsten McAslan and Shelayna Oskan-Clarke could all dip inside 54 secs, Kim Wall an unknown quantity.

800m (2:03.50i/1:59.50)

Marilyn ‘Maz’ Okoro is the overwhelming favourite to dominate the event and clinch her berth on the British team to Turkey as she has got far too much for anyone else in the field to handle. Rowena Cole, the European U20 silver medallist, Charlotte Best, Tara Bird and Alison Leonard ought to fight it out for the minor top three places.

1500m (4:14.00i or 4:31.00i mile/4:03.50 or 4:22.00 mile)

Not a single name among Britain’s top 10 milers is about to tackle the distance and thus Scot Claire Gibson, along with Laura Kirk, rise as the most likely candidates to lift the title. Qualifying times chances don’t look good in this quarter though.

3000m (8:51.00i/8:38.00 or 15:02.00 5000m)

Having already shown enough to effectively ensure of selection, European Indoor champion Helen Clitheroe is skipping the affair leaving the field open to Hannah England and her lethal finishing kick to prevail.

It’s hard to see how the Daegu 1500m runner-up could possibly lose this race whether it be a slow tactical affair or paced hard from the front as she possesses the required equipment to cope with everything thrown at in the context of it.

Gemma Steel, on the back of a fabulous season on the country, might have an outside chance to shake her as long as she commits herself to a fast pace from the off and can take the race inside 9 minutes, while pacy Stacey Smith ought to come among the medals from the rest.

Interesting figures on show are Emily Pidgeon, Elle Baker, Abbey McGhee, Beth Potter and Katrina Wooton.

60m hurdles (8.10 or 12.95 100mh)

UK record holder Tiffany Porter is missing since racing at the centennial Milrose Games in New York so Jessica Ennis takes pole position to land yet another British title over the hurdles, with an eye on her PB of 7.95 secs. Her first sample of a 8.05 secs on the very same track at the opening leg of the McCain Indoor Challenge firmly points to that way.

Gemma Bennett has solid hopes of edging under the qualifying mark on a SB of 8.16 secs set in Glasgow whereas Beijing finalist Sarah Claxton has failed to build on an encouraging start as yet, with a SB of 8.25 secs.

Consequently, the likes of Louise Wood and U23 Ashley Helshby might fancy their chances of sneaking into the medals on the grounds of PBs of 8.31 and 8.34 secs respectively.

Commonwealth heptathlon champion Louise Hazell will be out in this one as well looking to challenge her own PB of 8.27 secs, slightly over a tenth down this season on 8.38 so far, as is Meghan Beesley over a speed workout on the back of a n indoor best of 53.74 secs over 400m in Birmingham midweek.

High Jump (1.92)

Young Isobel Pooley, fresh from a big PB of 1.88m last weekend in the same arena, is brimming with confidence and could push Ennis towards her PB and equal  UK record of 1.95m, as could herself be spurred on by her great opponent to reach the qualifying standard of 1.92m and book her ticket for Istanbul.  But, at length, there appears that it could be some light at the end of the tunnel in this event on the domestic front.

Interesting to see what Steph Pywell has to offer though she looks some way off her best at the moment.

Pole Vault (4.52)

This is no contest by any stretch of the imagination but more of a Holly Bleasdale vs the bar affair that will turn on the freshness of the new British sensation in athletics following her epic battle with Yelena Isinbayeva in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on Wednesday. A new UK record is always a possibility whenever she turns up in a competition.

Britain’s No2 Kate Dennison will be missing to leave the gap on the opposition even larger but there is a potential separate duel between swiftly rising U20 record holder Katie Byres and Welsh top all-time marker Sally Peake shaping up that could spur either on to new standards.

Also U20 Lucy Bryan is an interesting character for the future in the field and Sally Scott could improve considerably.

Long Jump (6.65)

Shara Proctor has shown very consistent with two indoor bests of 6.59 and 6.60m in as many outings this season so ought to come on top with relative ease, with pressure off her shoulders since she holds a qualifying 6.81m from last summer. Hopefully, she is going to keep up the trend and improve even further towards the 6.70s to boost her chances of a good result in Turkey.

Tony Minichiello says that Jessica Ennis is gearing up to a leap in the discipline and that would be a good occasion to bring it about and shake the confidence of her major rival for gold, Tatyana Chernova.

Abigail Irozuru looks like a safe bet to make up the top three and is on a PB-ing streak lately.

Triple Jump (14.10)

Yamile Aldama could be on the verge of turning her 40 but has still plenty of spring left in her legs to deliver the goods on the big stage, having started the season on a winning note at 14.03m in Glasgow. Two weeks on, she should move up a gear and well capable of landing towards the 14.30-14.40s and announce herself as a potential medallist in Istanbul next month.

Nadia Williams will be out to add to her recent 13.52m in Vienna but if one is looking for a breakthrough then world U20 silver medallist Laura Samuel fits the description, always relishing a championships environment.

Shot Put (17.50)

The spotlight will be on Jessica Ennis, again, eyeing to reach way beyond the 14m mark after a solid opener of 13.95m on this ground about three weeks ago. But spare a few glances on Eden Francis, the European U23 discus champion in 2009, who has made plenty of headway and is lying on the edge of 17m, setting a PB of 16.92m last week – the farthest by a Brit since 2006.

Louise Hazell goes in this one too and U20 Sophie McKinna is a good prospect for the future to follow.

Talented Caribbean youngster Delano Williams has revealed that he will be running for Great Britain this season and aiming to gain a place on the Olympic team of his adopted-to-be country for London in an interview, having applied for a British passport a few days ago.

The 18-year-old, born on 23 December 1993, hails from the Turks & Caicos Islands which are located southeast of the Bahamas and constitute a British overseas territory but don’t have a NOC to compete in Olympics, thereby forming an identical case to long jumper Shara Proctor who switched allegiance to Britain from Anguilla in 2010.

Williams displays PBs of 20.73 and 45.7 secs over 200m and 400m (albeit the latter cannot yet be confirmed in the IAAF statistics) respectively from last year which could set him up not only to emerge as a major medal contender at the World U20 Championships this summer but also boost the depth of the British long relay in London, with an outside chance of making an individual spot at that.


Robbie Grabarz has staged a stunning opener to the his indoor campaign as he rose over a total PB of 2.29m at the first time of asking at the High Jump Gala in Birmingham, gaining the qualifying standard for the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul from the outset.

Grabarz sails over 2.29m at the first attempt

The NEB athlete pulled together a display of no equal in his career before as he maintained a clean sheet through 2.20 and 2.26m leading up to his new landmark and even narrowly failed to land clear of  the Olympic A qualifier of 2.31 at a single stroke. By the look of it, though, it should be only a matter of time before he does!

Last summer, he lost out to Tom Parsons and Martyn Bernard at 2.28m on countback, and on the World Championships in Deagu by extension, at the UK World Trials at the ‘Brum’ but now bounces back to hold an early firm grip on selection for the indoor equivalent in March – how fast things can shift!

Further, his blasting opener offers a vigorous response to the controversial downfall of high jumpers from the UK Athletics funding scheme only a year after Bernard clinched a surprise bronze at the Europeans in Barcelona, with Parsons making the final as well. For good measure, Germaine Mason also won silver in Beijing in 2008 to bolster up a good image of British high jump on the big stage.

Incidentally, Grabarz’s previous best stood at 2.28, attained in both the previous two seasons, while his new mark sees him sitting nicely as number three behind American Erik Kynard (2.31) in the early global rankings, first-but-one across Europe a mere cm down on Russian Aleksandr Shustov (2.30) in the process.

For that matter, he also moves a sole tenth in the total British all-time lists as he edges off John Holman, who set 2.28m indoors back in 1989.

Grabarz narrowly fails at 2.31

U23 Chris Baker came second over a PB of 2.20m, adding a solid 4cm to the good, for a nice start himself and David Smith was third at 2.16m.


There have hardly been any surprises in the first wave of selections for the marathon announced by the British Olympic Assossiation earlier today as Paula Radcliffe, Mara Yamauchi and Scott Overall booked their places on the starting line of London in summer.

Scott Overall

World record holder Radcliffe, actually, was always a certainty fully acknowledged and respected within all quarters since her staggering comeback to form in clocking 2h23:46 for third in the streets of Berlin last September and even Charles van Commennee moved to confirm her place well in advance, apparently attempting to brush aside any lingering worries or anxiety playing on her mind at the time.

At her best, she can be a genuine gold medal contender and UK Athletics’s head coach wants to make sure she enjoys the best possible build-up to London, representing her last chance to gain hold of the only accolade missing from her pedigree.

From there on, there were two main options left open and the Dutchman eventually leant towards the safer trail of naming a second runner early so that he has two individuals fully focussed on their preparations and unconcerned about contesting another race over the distance up to the Olympics, thus coming up with Yamauchi.

The Japanese-based athlete edged ahead of the pack in contention for selection behind Radcliffe late courtesy of her 2h27:54 for third in Yokohama and her very good championship record, as well as her superior PB of 2h23:12, counted a good deal in her favour.

The third place goes now down to a virtual run-off in the London marathon in April where Jo Pavey stands out as favourite to round out the Olympic trio while Claire Hallissey and Louise Damen look like her most dangerous rivals and may have a say in this.

On the men’s side, things were far simpler and Scott Overall had very much nailed his berth as early as he crossed the line in an astounding debut 2h10:55 for firth in Berlin in September, off a very unconvincing season at that. But that is where the very beauty of athletics really lies as the seemingly impossible can always be possible!

What is going to be intriguing, though, is whether he decides to head straight for the Olympics or take in another outing over the distance to gain more experience on the way.

Selectors could have gone for Dave Webb, who holds an equivalent A Olympic standard as he finished in the top 20 in Daegu, but having not run inside 2h15 so far may have counted against his early selection. However, he has got a good case in his hands and could tackle a late winter marathon to enhance his own prospects, placing pressure on the rest who will most likely opt for a make-or-break venture in London in April.




Damen relieved to still have chance of gaining an Olympic berth

Yamauchi feels privileged to have been selected

Andrew Lemoncello has suffered bitter disappointment as injury wrecked his bid to obtain a late A qualifying time in Fukuoka, Japan, a mere day before the UK Athletics selection panel meet to issue the first wave of athletes for the marathon in the London Olympics.

With season revelation Scott Overall having as good as nailed a place by means of his 2h10:55 debut in Berlin, the Scot needed a time inside 2h12:00 to be also considered for an early naming himself and evade a demanding and more stressful ‘second round’ of qualification that stretches up to April.

‘Lemon’ started promisingly as he maintained a steady pace between 15:26 and 15:36 across his 5km splits and safely inside the target over the first half of the course, going through 10km in 31:04 and the halfway mark in 65:39.

But by that time harm had crept in in the form of a hamstring injury which was inevitably being aggravated as the second half wore on to whittle away his efforts to a 31:54 third 10km, slipping well outside qualification territory as a consequence.

The last act of the race simply turned a matter of agony and survival, albeit he may well have been better off dropping out and save himself likely further damage, as he floundered over the fourth 10km section in just 40:04 for his last 2.195m in a pedestrian 10:24 to say the whole story into a final time of 2h24:31…

Lemoncello will hope that his injury isn’t serious and he can get back into full training soon enough to set up a solid renewed attempt in spring. But for the time being, what is all but certain selectionwise is that Overall will be the only male marathon runner named on the first cut for London next summer.

Dave Webb holds an equivalent of an A standard as he finished 15th at the recent World Championships in Daegu, the selection policy ruling top 20 markers therein as such, but he could be likely to have to wait to learn his fate in April.

As concerns the race itself upfront, Josphat Nyambiri (KEN) ran away with the spoils on a fabulous debut of 2h07:36 over the distance (63:29 at the halfway point) followed by Japan-based compatriot James Mwangi in 2h08:38 filling the runner-up spot and local favourite Yuki Kawauchi in 2h09:57 to close out the top three.

The latter will be entertaining hopes that his showing could turn sufficient enough to convince selectors of granting him a place on the Japanese Olympic squad.

Irishman Alistair Cragg, who has been enjoying a second and even greener spring in his career lately, pulled out of the affair after going through 25km in 75:11 (63:29 in the leading pack at the halfway mark) probably down to some problem cropping up.

Full Results

IAAF Report

UK Athletics have just announced the make-up of the British team that will travel to Vilenje, Slovenia, to contest the year’s European Cross-Country Championships next weekend.

There are no surprise calls whatever involved, save maybe that sensational U17 prospect Jessica Judd hasn’t eventually been picked for the U20 women’s outfit, as selectors seem to have gone stricktly by the book and for top five finishers at the respective Trials held in Liverpool on Saturday.

The mid to late stages in the women’s race with Hattie Dean a creditable seventh at last year’s European XC Championships

Steph Twell has been named as expected on a strong U23 women’s side, featuring Hannah Walker, Lauren Howarth and Emma Pallant,  that show the makings of firm gold medal contenders as Andy Baddeley returns to the picture after a while to join the likes of Andy Vernon.

Apart from the U23 women, the U20 women’s side look odds-on to claim the European title spearheaded by the fabulous duo of Emelia Gorecka and Annabel Gummow, silver and bronze medallists over 5000m in Kaunas last summer.

The overall side selected has as follows:

Senior Men

Andy Baddeley, Mark Draper, Ryan McLeod, Frank Tickner, Andy Vernon, James Walsh

Senior Women

Elle Baker, Julia Bleasdale, Hatti Dean, Freya Murray, Gemma Steel, Emily Wicks

U23 Men

Philip Berntsen, Matthew Gillespie, Mitch Goose, Matthew Graham, Derek Hawkins, James Wilkinson

U23 Women

Lauren Howarth, Emma Pallant, Lily Partridge, Naomi Taschimowitz, Steph Twell, Hannah Walker

U20 Men

Kieran Clements, Niall Fleming, Richard Goodman, Jack Goodwin, Jonny Hay, Mark Shaw

U20 Women

Beth Carter, Emelia Gorecka, Annabel Gummow, Katie Holt, Gemma Kersey, Laura Muir

Senior Men (9.8km)

Andy Vernon has opened his individual account on the country to fabulous effect as he streaked past a surprisingly strong Mark Draper in the dying stages of the senior men’s race to convincingly defend his title in 29:19 in windy conditions, placing a good three seconds in between.

The World Student Games champion opted to sit in the leading pack to keep close hold of procedures throughout and didn’t hit the front but for roughly the last furlong where his superior track speed over the distance told. A substantial mental boost, he has got now a sterner task on his hands at the racing ground of Vilenje in less than a fortnight as he is turning to face his last year’s demons and force his way into the medals.

Highlights from Liverool on Saturday

Likewise, distance ‘drifter’ Draper, hardly a familiar figure in these quarters, cashed in on his recent altitude training spell in Kenya into runner-up (29:22) straight away and is looking for a lot more in Slovenia while hopefully earning a British vest will Mark a new beginning for him to reach his potential – maybe reverting to the barriers as shown late in summer?

Third, a mere two seconds adrift, came Ryan McLeod, the son of Olympic 10000m silver medallist Mike, to grab the last automatic slot in a solid display and returning-to-action Andy Baddeley may have done enough to earn his place following in fourth at a similar distance behind.

Apparently moving up to 5000m, the Beijing 1500m finalist employed a more reserved early pattern and showed only in the second half of the race to work his way through, edging out early leader James Walsh in an identical time (29:26) at the end.

Bristol’s winner Frank Tickner wound up sixth in 29:29, Steve Vernon was seventh some way behind in 29:38 while marathon Olympic hopeful Phil Wicks occupied an eventual ninth in 29:49 and US-based Keith Gerrard closed out the top ten in 29:52.


1.Andy Vernon 29:19, 2.Mark Draper 29:22, 3.Ryan McLeod 29:24, 4.Andy Baddeley 29:26, 5.James Walsh 29:26, 6.Frank Tickner 29:29, 7.Steve Vernon 29:38, 8.Ben Whitby 29:45, 9.Phil Wicks 29:49, 10.Keith Gerrard 29:52, 11.Jonny Taylor 29:53, …, 16.Jonny Mellor 30:04, 17.Ricky Stevenson 30:05, 19.David Bishop 30:05, 28.Jon Pepper 30:18, 26.Ben Moreau 30:20, 28.Glen Watts 30:29, 38.Steve Mitchell 30:56


U23 Men

‘American’ Mitch Goose rose a rather surprise U23 top finisher in 29:55, 12th overall, in a separate contest incorporated into the senior’s race but, rather astonishingly, it wasn’t pre-race favourite James Wilkinson he had to hold off to the title, trailing well behind in fifth (22nd overall) by a good 16 secs. But, quite likely, a one-off for the latter who ought to be shown confidence and be drafted into the age group outfit still.

Dereck Hawkins came home in second  just under 30 minutes (29:59) and steeplechaser Matthew Graham got his hands on the last automatic spot in 30:05.


1.Mitch Goose 29:55 (12th overall), 2.Dereck Hawkins 29:59 (14th), 3.Matthew Graham 30:05 (18th), 4.Matthew Gillespie 30:09 (20th), 5.James Wilkinson 30:11 (22nd), 6.Ashley Harrell 30:12 (24th), 7.John McDonnell 30:33 (32nd), 8.Charlie McLean 30:39 (42nd), 9.Daniel Clorley 31:04 (44th)


U20 Men (6.7km)

Jonny Hay emerged an impressive winner out of his much anticipated duel with Richard Goodman as his sizzling turn of pace in the final burn-up saw him fashion sheer daylight of six seconds between them at the end, clocking 20:23 to 20:29 respectively.

Both were very pleased with their displays, however, having also just returned from altitude training in Kenya. The last automatic berth was staked out by Mark Shaw who slotted nicely in the gap between the top duo and fourth-placer Kieran Clements for a convincing third in 20:37.


1.Jonny Hay 20:23, 2.Richard Goodman 20:29, 3.Mark Shaw 20:37, 4.Kieran Clements 20:44, 5.Niall Fleming 20:46, 6.Jack Goodwin 20:53, …, 8.Robbie Farnham-Rose 21:00, 9.Charlie Grice 21:05


U17 Men

1.Laurrie Probert 17:38, 2.Charlie Joslin-Allen 17:42, 3.James Lanswood 17:47, 4.Tom Bains 17:50


Senior Women (8.1km)

A dark horse as she had been going into the Trials, steeplechaser Hattie Dean showed plenty of horsepower in her gear to upstage pre-race favourite Gemma Steel into a fairytale comeback on the country of Liverpool, having not raced since late May in Rome.

But a touch of altitude training in the land of the runners, the famous Rift Valley, went a long way against a currently flying Steel, on an unbeaten run since September, who made her intentions clear from early on to make a tough pace out of it from the front and not leave matters to a late burn-up at the hands of faster finishers.

And her tactics all but worked to plan quickly since soon only Dean was still following along, yet fairly comfortably, as the two kept moving away from the rest of the field with every stride and lap.  But when the crunch came, the Barcelona ‘chase fourth placer’s strength and track speed told to work her crucial space that stretched up to four seconds in the end for a superb victory and a big confidence boost.

Needless to say that both booked their place on the team to Vilenje a fortnight on, clocking 27:05 and 27:09 respectively, with Scott Freya Murray, racing into form after an intermittent year due to sorts of injuries, just pipping up-and-coming U23 Hannah Walker for the last automatic place as both shared the same time of 27:32. The latter must have been more than content to clinch her age group title though.

A race of fairytale returns was most fittingly suplemented a place behind with the delightful sight of Steph Twell, in her first serious competitive test since her freak ankle injury in February, who applied well and performed beyond all expectations to secure the runner-up spot and a berth in the U23 side in 27:37. Maybe the story of the day above all with her hopes receiving a massive mental boost in view of London next summer.

Charlene Thomas, also on a return after a lengthy injury lay-off, came in well behind in 14th in 28:15 and Sian Edwards, a nearly forgotten golden prospect of the recent past, trailed a long way back in 34th well over two minutes behind the top places; can she revive the promise she showed in the U20 ranks only a few seasons ago?


1.Hattie Dean 27:05, 2.Gemma Steel 27:09, 3.Freya Murray 27:32, 4.Hannah Walker (U23) 27:32, 5.Steph Twell (U23) 27:37, 6.Julia Bleasdale 27:39, 7.Elle Baker 27:44, 8.Naomi Taschimovitz (U23) 27:45, 9.Emma Pallant (U23) 28:04, 10.Emily Wicks 28:05, …, 14.Charlene Thomas 28:15, 15.Justina Heslop 28:19, 16.Lauren Howarth (U23) 28:24, 17.Katrina Wooton 28:26, 19.Natalie Harvey 28:39, 20.Jessica Sparke 28:35, 31.Andrea Whitcombe (W35) 28:35, 24.Emily Pidgeon (U23) 28:43, 25.Beth Potter (U23) 28:49, 30.Kate Avery (U23) 29:10, 31.Jessica Coulson (U23) 29:21, 32.Abbey McGhee (U23) 29:24, 34.Sian Edwards 29:31, 41.Felicity Milton 29:41


U23 Women

Behind Walker and a buoyant Twell, new face in the swim Naomi Taschimovitz ensured of a British vest taking third in 27:45 and Emma Pallant followed in fourth in 28:04 to effectively qualify herself.

On the other hand, Lauren Howarth must have been disappointed with just a 16th finish in 28:24 while Emily Pidgeon ranged further adrift in 24th in 28:43 and Kate Avery ended up well down the order in 30th in 29:10, both still looking to find their way.

Most surprisingly, new Mick Woods-asset Jess Coulson trailed way behind in 31st only a couple of months on setting a UK age best over 10 miles, some niggle possibly creeping in in the interim.

1.Hannah Walker 27:32, 2.Steph Twell 27:37, 3.Naomi Taschimovitz 27:45, 4.Emma Pallant 28:04, 5.Lily Partridge 28:09, 6.Lauren Howarth 28:24


U20 Women (4.4km)

The eagerly anticipated three-way clash in the affair, incorporating the U17 group, remained on paper as Emelia Gorecka turned up with ideas of her own to demolish the field with aplomb in the most impressive performance of the day.

The race stood as a contest only round the first lap until the European U20 5000m silver medallist, another one of Mick Woods’s wonder girls, moved up a gear to swiftly open up a decisive gap that was ever growing and claim the race sight unseen.

Her final winning margin of 16 seconds, wrapping up the distance in 14:54, simply echoed the magnitude and quality of her supremacy and form as she will be heading to Slovenia with confidence sky high to add the European title to her silverware.

Notwithstanding a thorough defeat, sensational U17 Jessica Judd turned in a stellar display of her own to convincingly hold off  European U20 bronze medallist Annabel Gummow into a superb runner-up for her tender age, clocking 15:10 to 15:15 respectively, and demonstrate her amazing range once more while Stoke’s Katie Holt emerged as a new force, just a 9:55 performer over 3000m last summer, to grab a sound fourth in 15:23 further behind.

1.Emelia Gorecka 14:54, 2.Jessica Judd (U17) 15:10, 3.Annabel Gummow 15:15, 4.Katie Holt 15:23, 5.Amy Griffiths (U17) 15:25, 6.Beth Carter 15:28, 7.Gemma Kersey 15:31, 8.Laura Muir 15:42, 9.Grace Baker (U17) 15:42


U17 Women

Apart from highly-anticipated Judd, 15-year-old Amy Griffiths shone brightly herself to clinch a striking overall fifth and second in the U17 class in 15:25 as she is rising a new fascinating prospect through the ranks and a potential heir to the summit.

Grace Baker, also 15, was third and ninth overall in 15:42 to add to a very prolific day for Woods’s group.

1.Jessica Judd 15:10, 2.Amy Griffiths 15:25, 3.Grace Baker 15:42, 4.Abbie Hetherington 16:00

Full Results



Purdue out but Twell comes in at European XC Trials in Liverpool

Top distance hopeful Charlotte Purdue will be missing the second leg of the McCain’s Cross-Country Challenge, incorporating the European Trials for Velenje (Slovenia) a fortnight on Sunday, due to a knee complaint that forced her into a slightly earlier return from a training stint in Kenya last week.

Nevertheless, the Mick Woods-coached U23 runner looks to have been pre-selected on the senior team and can solely turn her sights on the European Championships where she is aiming to steer into the medals.

By contrast, groupmate star Steph Twell, having also just returned from Kenya, is contesting her first serious race since a freak accident in February that saw her miss the entire track season, hoping to snatch a place of her own on the British team.

The 22-year-old tested her leg in a calculated gamble of a low-key road relay in September to come off well and unscathed but she is still lying some way off top shape and therefore may have to fight her way into the U23 outfit, with Hannah Walker, Lauren Howarth and teammate Emma Pallant figuring among the starters.

On the other hand, in-excellent-form Gemma Steel is brimming with confidence and pace as she heads into the race as standout senior favourite to clinch a second back-to-back victory in the series and it’s hard to see where a challenge could come from given the complexion of the affair.

Backing up her claim, the 26-year-old remains unbeaten on any surface or distance since September and would like to add to that three-on-the-trot string.

A further couple of very welcome returns to the fold involve ‘chaser Hattie Dean, fourth over the barriers in Barcelona last year, who competes for the first time since injury ruined a season that started in the most promising colours of a straight Olympic qualifier of 9:37.95 in Rome last May; as well as European Cup 1500m victor Charlene Thomas who hasn’t raced on any surface since the very same time of her highest feat so far as though following parallel fortunes.

Despite their pedigree, both are going to be unknown quantities until the contest gets going and maybe even further until it hits decisive stages, likely feeling their way into action.

Freya Murray, Justina Heslop and Julia Bleasdale are other notable names on the start-lists, which oddly don’t include the name of Thomas – a late withdrawal?

On the men’s side, the presence of World Student Games champion Andy Vernon promises an injection of quality on the opener of the series and a stern test for the likes of Frank Tickner and Phil Wicks, the prominent figures in Bristol, along with the comeback of Andy Baddeley on the country after sitting out last winter. It will be really interesting to see what sort of proposition the latter is going to offer on the back of a poor summer campaign.

U23 steeplechaser James Wilkinson has got to be a red-hot favourite among U23 men while James Walsh, Tom Humphries and Mark Draper, apparently working his way back over the barriers, are other names to watch.

Emelia Gorecka and Annabel Gummow, the silver and bronze medallists over 5000m at the European U20 Championships, engage in a very enticing duel in the junior ranks anew and the affair is spiced up nicely with the presence of sensational U17 prospect Jessica Judd.

The first three-past-the-post in each division gain automatic qualification for Slovenia although an U23 runner that finishes in a senior qualifying spot, with the two age groups blended into a single race, can still claim his place in the top tier.


Entry Lists

Selection policy

The women’s marathon in Yokohama (Japan) last Sunday effectively wrapped up the first ’round’ of the contest between female hopefuls for places on the British team in the event, save some remarkable last-gasp turn, so the time has come for UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenne to take stock and make up his mind on the line to follow in view of the first meeting of the selection panel concerned on Monday 5 December.

The Dutchman may have stirred plenty of controversy over certain issues over the last months, in particular a considerable part of the funding lists make-up, but when it comes to selection matters he is meticulous to a T and leaves no stone unturned.

Great Paula Radcliffe is certain to fill a place in the first issue of selections following an astounding bounce back to form out of the shadows coming third in 2h23:46 in Berlin and few could argue with that. She is sheer class, vastly experienced and a fiercesome competitor like no other and everyone knows what she could be capable of provided she can maintain a steady injury-free course to London. Further, she commands the greatest respect and forms an inspiration to all the other distance female runners in the land.

Van Commennee senses that the world record holder over the distance can extend the range of British gold medal prospects into six in London so he is going to give her the chance to prepare as she thinks best and totally undistracted in the pursuit of the elusive title in her illustrious career.

However, the main dilemma lies right below Radcliffe downwards through the ranks. Should he name a second runner on the team from early on in a similar light or leave two places up for grabs in a virtual run-off in the London marathon in April? This is a matter that requires plenty of thought and vision.

As fair and more straightforward as the latter option may look, it presents a certain tricky situation. London marathon falls a little too close to the Olympics and while van Commennee would get his two other runners fair and square that could compromise the chances of a good overall showing in the Olympics considerably. Simply, the next peak in their performance graph may not tie in with and overtake the London Olympics – for that matter, there would be an apparent danger of athletes arriving tired or spent there if they sped up their build-up.

That is a variable that might as well entice towards the former, maybe safer, option; having two individuals building up fully focussed on London, unconcerned about selection issues or tackling another race over the distance, with a vacancy for the taking between the rest in April.

In which case, the name of Mara Yamauchi could come forth first on the back of a solid showing that earned her third place in 2h27:24 in the streets of Yokohama in difficult warm conditions, pulling away a full minute into runner-up in the British rankings this season. The Japanese-based athlete is a monster of consistency and boasts a very good record on the big stage, sixth in Beijing and ninth in Osaka, that could stand her in good stead for an early selection. On top of that, her 2h23 form in the relatively recent past is not beyond her.

That said, the latest global trend in the women’s marathon shows that the top tier is ever more overrun by runners of a sound speed background over shorter distances, either on the track or the road, which might point to a little gamble on Jo Pavey, a 14:39.96 performer over 5000m among others in the past. The 38-year-old is a new girl-on-the-block but looks to have been settling already into her stride and has clocked a brace of 2h28 runs in as many outings so far (PB 2h28:24). The potential is there and she could knock a few more minutes off with a few more months of training behind her.

On the other hand, van Commennee should not haste into assigning all three places early so that he doesn’t miss out on any potential breakthrough from behind. Claire Hallissey came to slash nearly seven minutes off her PB to a new mark of 2h29:27 in Chicago to emerge as a contenter out of virtually nowhere, she is on a momentum and will fancy her chances of pulling off a late upset.

Louise Damen finds herself in an intricate position following her non-finish in Yokohama. She ran only around 10km there meaning that she could be physically on call to race again even within a couple of weeks, which in turn comes within the frame of 5 December. So might she gamble on such a venture? At any rate, she has got a marathon in hand on the others and has got to choose sensibly where to play her card.

From there on, Beijing Olympian Liz Yelling has still got lots of ground to make if her 2h34:58 in Frankfurt is anything to go by, while Alyson Dixon is an interesting character and could improve a good deal on her PB of 2h34:50 in warm and windy conditions in Brighton last April. Susan Partridge completes the list of Olympic qualifiers down to a PB of 2h34:13 in London.