The 36th edition of the European Indoor Championships starts this Thursday 4th March packed full of British talent. Medal prospects across the distance, in this guide we will be running through the squad and when you can watch them toe the line.
Live coverage will be available on BBC TV throughout the four days. All times in brackets are Season Bests.
First Round (6.30pm GMT, Thursday 4th March) Final (8.00pm GMT, Friday 5th March)
First up on the track is a trio of British women who all will be shooting for day two’s final. Only five athletes on the start list boast quicker PB’s than Swansea’s Verity Ockenden (8.51.63i), her dominant win in Sport City a sign that 2021 could be a real breakthrough year for Tony Houchin’s athlete. Not far behind Amy-Eloise Markovc’s (née Neale) 8.54.11 was achieved as part of a 2-mile effort in the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in the States so there may yet be room for improvement.
Amelia Quirk (8.58.57i) has every chance of progressing and will see a senior championship introduction as an exciting stage in her development.
First Round (7.20pm GMT, Thursday 4th March) Final (8.35pm GMT, Friday 5th March)
It is safe to say there’s a favourite in the 1500m and the fact his name is Jakob Ingibrigtsen won’t surprise you. It is testament to the quality of British milers these days that with a host of stars choosing to focus on the Olympics, those that remain still have genuine medal prospects.
Scotland’s Neil Gourlay (3.35.79i) looks to be rounding into form at just the right time and has good memories of a track he performed at less than two weeks ago. His third-place finish was within a whisker of home favourite Marcin Lewandowski. On the start line only the Pole, Jakob Ingebrigtsen and the German, Tesfaye Homiyu have run quicker indoors, with the later not having done so in recent years. Displaying an increasing maturity and a trademark kick the Virginia Tech athlete has every chance of a medal and I for one will be watching with interest.
Piers Copeland (3.38.55i) recently beat a strong field in the trials and has shown little ceiling to his talent. Race well and he can expect to reach the final and has a creditable claim to throw himself into medal contention should he get there.
Archie Davis (3.42.09i) has beat some stellar competition to make the team and will go into the championships with nothing to lose. In a slower race the Brighton Phoenix athlete has a very useful finish and could, in the right conditions, believe himself worthy of a final place.
First Round (11.22am Friday 5th March) Final (6.50pm Saturday, 6th March)
British Athletics send two athletes both hoping to make breakthroughs on the international stage. With a whisker between them at the trials Cambridge and Coleridge’s Holly Archer (4.10.03i) makes her major championships debut and Herne Hill’s Katie Snowden (4.10.43i) will hope to add to the experience of an 11th place finish in the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Both will have to be at their very best to nab a final spot though go into the competition without the weight of expectation on their shoulders.
First Round (12.00pm, Friday 5th March), Semi-Final (6.25pm, Saturday 6th March) Final (5.13pm, Sunday 7th March)
Britain’s women all earn their first Senior vests but to say the Championship is only a learning experience would be an outright lie.
Keely Hodgkinson’s performance in Vienna, shattering the World Junior Record by a two second margin has catapulted the Leigh athlete into gold medal contention. 1.59.03, no-one in the field has run quicker she is fourth on the British all-time senior list. She turns 19 the day before the champs.
A performance over three rounds is another ask but she has had some experience before, winning European bronze as an U20. A completely different athlete now, if she can display the same maturity and race craft that saw her seize control with 300m to go in Vienna she has every chance but putting a favourite tag round her neck would be unfair on in her first senior championships.
In any other year Isabelle Boffey’s (2.02.45i) third place finish in the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix would have received more attention than it did but the Enfield and Haringey athlete has quietly gone about her business. The gold medalist when Hodgkinson won bronze a run to the final is not out of reach and indeed may be the target for an athlete starting to impress on the global stage.
Ellie Baker (2.02.73i) of Shaftesbury Barnet makes up the trio and does so as an European U23 silver medallist making her first tilt at a major championships. With similar credentials to Boffey she will hope to go as far as she can through the rounds.
Round One (6.55pm, Friday 5th March) Semi-finals (6.25pm, Saturday 6th March) Final (5.25pm, Sunday 7th March)
The world’s fastest man this year Elliot Giles has recently pulled out but in Jamie Webb Britain still have the fastest athlete in the field. His 1.44.54 on the same track means for my money he’s the favourite and has shown his ability to negotiate the rounds before. The reigning silver medalist in this competition Webb’s challenge looks likely to come from home favourite Adam Kszczot, consistent performer Andreas Kramer and a resurgent Pierre-Ambroise Bosse. He has beaten them all this year and will fancy his chances once more.
For Guy Learmonth these champs will be his fourth in succession, his 2015 debut 6th place finish his best to date. Ever-reliable he front ran a indoor best 1.46.73 in a three man field at the end of January and has every chance of a final slot.
Round One (10.25am, Saturday 6th March) Final (4.52pm, Sunday 7th March)
European Athletics have scheduled the events to invite a 1,500, 3,000m double, meaning the mens 3,000 is the last to commence for Britain’s middle distance squad. Despite Marc Scott opting out, the British trio have all earned their stripes.
Andrew Butchart needs no introduction and comes into the competition in promising form. A 7.40.85 in Karlsruhe was the second fastest British performance of all-time and is the third fastest time this year by any in the field (better than Ingebrigtsen). He may have performed less well in the Selection trials, being reasonably comfortably beaten by Jack Rowe, but he will hope to gather his form in Torun. Now focused just on the 3,000 this could be the Scot’s best chance yet at a major championship medal.
Alongside him are two athletes who have paid their dues on the national circuit. Aldershot, Farnham & District’s Jack Rowe (7.54.35i) has built on his breakthrough 5,000m British silver outdoors and has justly earned his debut major championship vest. In the same vein Phil Sesemann (7.51.27i) makes his debut for Great Britain on the track at the age of 29. Both have nothing to lose and it is an indication of British strength in depth that both will compete.
Featured image “EKI30373 finale 800m man jamie webb” by babbo1957 is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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