Olympic Selection At Stake At UK Athletics Champs

Olympic selection at stake at UK Athletics Champs

National championships at Sportcity in Manchester will see athletes aiming to make the Paris Games this weekend

The UK Athletics Championships might not be as cut-throat as the US Olympic Team Trials but this weekend’s event in Manchester promises to be just as exciting for British fans.

Olympic Selection

Unlike the brutal elimination of athletes such as Athing Mu at the US Trials in Oregon, the British system has some leniency. Mu’s rival Keely Hodgkinson, for example, is allowed to run the 400m at the British trials. Similarly, world 1500m champion Josh Kerr is going to test his speed in the 800m. Zharnel Hughes, the UK 100m and 200m record-holder, meanwhile, has been given the nod by UK Athletics medics to miss the event entirely due to a recent hamstring injury.

Still, the majority of places in the British team for Paris will be hard fought this weekend (June 29-30) at Sportcity. The predicted heatwave doesn’t look set to fall on the North West of England either but the athletics action will definitely be hot (and hopefully drier than last year’s rain-soaked event).

As usual the top two athletes at the trials will be selected if they have a qualifying standard. For the the full selection criteria, see here.

BBC will be covering the action live on both Saturday and Sunday too on its website, red button and iPlayer.

Looking for potential highlights? Here are 10 to watch out for.

Hinchliffe the breakthrough Brit of the sprints scene

The North West of England enjoyed the surreal experience of a visit from Carl Lewis seven months ago when the nine-time Olympic champion descended on the Liverpool Cross Challenge. It could happen again this weekend too if Lewis travels over from the Houston to support one of the athletes he coaches, Louie Hinchliffe.

The last time the Sheffield athlete Hinchliffe raced in Manchester he finished a modest fourth in an indoor 60m race in 2022 and was then sixth in his heat at the UK Indoor Championships a few weeks later in Birmingham.

Louie Hinchliffe (Shawn Price)

What a difference a couple of years makes, though, as he started this summer with a wind-assisted 9.84 before winning the NCAA title in Eugene in 9.95.

Can he repeat that form on Saturday as he takes on Jeremiah Azu, Eugene Amo-Dadzie, Ojie Edoburun, Romell Glave, CJ Ujah and Reece Prescod among others?

Ready for another men’s 800m battle royale?

Last year’s 800m final was a humdinger with Max Burgin taking out the pace in 49.74 at the bell before faltering in the home straight as Dan Rowden took the win in 1:45.13 in a blanket finish from Ben Pattison and Burgin.

The enigmatic Burgin has not raced (again) so far this summer but is entered for this weekend’s event. Has he managed to get his fragile Achilles tendons through enough sessions lately to make an impact?

Olympic selection at stake at UK Athletics Champs

Max Burgin falls as Dan Rowden strikes (Getty)

If he hits the front in typical style then you can expect the likes of world bronze medallist Pattison, defending champion Rowden, Kyle Langford, Yusuf Bizimana, Callum Dodds, Tom Randolph, Finley Mclear, Alex Botterill, Ethan Hussey, Guy Learmonth, Oliver Dustin and Reece Sharman-Newell to be chasing hard.

If he runs 800m instead of 1500m, Elliot Giles will probably start favourite, though.

Looking for a wild card? How about Josh Kerr, the world 1500m champion who was fifth in this race last year.

KJT tests her fitness in three events ahead of Paris

Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s attempt to win her first European heptathlon title didn’t go to plan in Rome this month as she pulled out after three events with a minor injury.

Paris is what really matters, though, so the world champion will be hoping to hone her form in Manchester this weekend in the high jump, 200m and javelin.

After world champion Anna Hall qualified for Paris at the US trials, together with Nafi Thiam taking the European crown in Rome, it means the heptathlon is developing into one of the must-watch events of this summer’s Games.

Olympic selection at stake at UK Athletics Champs

Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Peter Simmons)

The high jump this weekend should be particularly competitive for KJT as she faces reigning champion Morgan Lake, who also didn’t enjoy a brilliant European Championships either with sixth place in the final.

Asher-Smith and Neita in sprints action

When it comes to potential head-to-heads, Dina Asher-Smith versus Daryll Neita is hard to beat. Right now Neita is entered for 100m and 200m with Asher-Smith in the 200m. But if they square off in Manchester you can expect a close race.

Both athletes are in great form. Asher-Smith won the European 100m title in Rome this month while Neita lost out on 200m gold by one hundredth of a second to Mujinga Kambundji.

Olympic selection at stake at UK Athletics Champs

Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita (Getty)

Green light for Amber Anning

Amber Anning went No.3 on the UK all-time 400m rankings earlier this summer with 49.51 in Florida – she broke Katharine Merry’s long-standing UK indoor 200m record as well – and this is a rare chance to see the US-based sprinter run on home soil.

If she can repeat her sub-50-second form in Manchester, she should win. But look out for in-form Laviai Nielsen, while Nicole Yeargin has been in winning shape on the European circuit. Then there is Victoria Ohuruogu, Yemi Mary John and the 800m specialist Keely Hodgkinson dropping down in distance for the second time this season to test her speed.

Olympic selection at stake at UK Athletics Champs

Amber Anning (Getty)

Teenage sensation Gill to make her mark?

Just 17, Phoebe Gill ran a stadium record of 1:58.07 at the BMC Grand Prix at Sportcity in May. She has run even quicker in 2024, too, with 1:57.86 in Belfast and comes into the UK Championships with the ability to make the Olympic team as a teenager.

With Keely Hodgkinson running 400m instead, Jemma Reekie is the athlete to beat. Look out too for Erin Wallace, Alex Bell, Ellie Baker and Issy Boffey.

Olympic selection at stake at UK Athletics Champs

Phoebe Gill (James Rhodes)

Lincoln shoots for shot title No.10

Shot putter Scott Lincoln will be going for his 10th outdoor national title this weekend and has been in superbly consistent form this summer.

He threw over 21 metres in February and coming into the summer has beaten the barrier again in six competitions. This included equalling his PB of 21.28m in Halle and then adding three centimetres to it with 21.31m in Ostrava.

On the way home from the Ostrava meeting, he reluctantly had to put his shot in a bin at the airport too when airport staff said it was too heavy to go in his hand luggage.

Olympic selection at stake at UK Athletics Champs

Scott Lincoln (Getty)

At the European Championships in Rome, meanwhile, he finished in fourth place, which was the best by a Brit in the event since Geoff Capes won bronze in the same city 50 years earlier.

Muir is the athlete to beat in the women’s 1500m

Laura Muir is the one to beat in the women’s 1500m as the British record-holder at 1000m, 1500m and the mile, in addition to being a two-time European 1500m champion, Commonwealth gold medallist and Olympic silver medallist from Tokyo.

Now coached by British Athletics endurance performance manager Steve Vernon, she is still at the top of her game with a 3:56.35 clocking for 1500m already this summer, which is just a couple of seconds outside her UK record.

She was out-kicked last year by Katie Snowden, though, while Georgia Bell, Revee Walcott-Nolan, Melissa Courtney-Bryant and Sarah McDonald are also likely to be in the mix.

Olympic selection at stake at UK Athletics Champs

Laura Muir (Getty)

Hudson-Smith tests his speed

With a recent European record of 44.07 in Oslo, Matthew Hudson-Smith is set to run the 200m in Manchester. Don’t discount his chances either as he started out at this event and is a former English Schools winner in it.

Hudson-Smith faces Jeriel Quainoo, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, Michael Ohioze and Jona Efoloko.

In the 400m this leaves the path clear for Charlie Dobson, as the rising star has run 44.38 this summer and placed runner-up to Alexander Doom in the European Championships in Rome this month.

Behind, look out for Charlie Carvell, Lewis Davey, Alex Haydock-Wilson, Toby Harries and others to be involved in a dust-up for relay spots.

Olympic selection at stake at UK Athletics Champs

Men’s 1500m (Getty)

No Kerr, but men’s 1500m is still stacked

Kerr might be racing 800m but that doesn’t mean this will be an easy race for anyone. Jake Wightman, the 2022 world 1500m champion, leads the entries but will face Neil Gourley, Piers Copeland and Adam Fogg.

Giles will be a major contender if he chooses the metric mile over 800m. George Mills must also choose whether to run 1500m or 5000m? He won European silver behind Jakob Ingebrigtsen this month, of course.

Sharman-Newell impresses at Loughborough BMC Grand Prix

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