Euro Indoors 2021 Guide – Britain’s Middle Distance Squad

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.

3000m Womens

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.  

1500m Mens

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.

1500m Womens

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.

800m Womens

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.

800m Mens

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.

3000m Mens

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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One last push for Tokyo’s GB marathon hopefuls

With the Olympic Marathon trials fast approaching in Kew Gardens on Friday 26th March, there will be plenty of storylines to keep an out for throughout the day. With plenty on the line for a whole host of ambitious athletes, and the ultimate reward a place on the plane to Tokyo, it will be an exciting race which we can all view on the British Athletics website from 8am on the day.

The start lists are as below:

The Women

Women’s marathon running in the UK is in rude health, and anyone earning one of the three spots will have done so in the face of the fiercest competition GB has ever seen. Four women have run within the qualifying time of 2.29.30, each of these comfortably so. Five have run within 2.30.00 in the qualifying period and a further three boast personal bests from previous years inside the qualifying time.

Separated by only 10 seconds are Jess Piasecki and Charlotte Purdue, both of who unfortunately will not be competing in Kew. Few debut’s will have been better that Jess’s 2.25.28 in Florence in October 2019. The third fastest Brit of all time, she hasn’t raced since, but her winning time included a huge negative split (74.31/70.58) and she may yet hope to prove fitness prior to the Games.

Up until Piasecki’s run, Charlotte Purdue’s 10th place finish in London was the stand out British performance of 2019. Consistent efforts in the low 68s for the half since have underlined the new level she has reached and in all likelihood her 2.25.38 but again she now finds herself in the awkward position of hoping her peers don’t run too quickly on Friday.

Steph Twell‘s 2.26.40 in late 2019 made clear the potential the decorated Aldershot Farnham and District athlete has over the marathon distance. Dropping out in London this year will have been a disappointment but came against the backdrop of a ludicrously early start and wet and cold conditions. Twell will not find herself on the start line due to injury and may now focus on securing a place in the 10,000 with the trials in June, an event in which she already has the qualifying time.

2.27.40 is stunningly fast, quick enough indeed for 9th on the British all time list, but it is testament to the competition that Steph Davis ranks as the 4th fastest Olympic hopeful and the fastest on the start line. Having nudged down her half marathon time since to 71.15, Davis will have hopes of breaking into the trio. Friday’s race represents a huge opportunity for the Clapham Chaser’s athlete to secure an Olympic spot.

Another athlete with a point to prove is Sarah Inglis. Now based in Western Canada, her 2.29.41 debut at the Marathon project in the US was only 11 seconds outside the standard. Her track credentials suggest the Scottish athlete could yet run much faster, and it’s great to see she has overcome the logistical barriers to find herself on the start line. She is the form athlete and one I expect may well force the issue.

In any other Olympic cycle British Champ Natasha Cockram would be looking just to run down the Olympic standard, and grab a spot on the plane, her 2.30.49 being good for 30th on the all-time list. Times have moved on however and the Welsh athlete will be hoping to back up a highly impressive London performance with a really breakthrough round the paths of Kew Gardens.

In a similar vein, Jenny Spinks and Tish Jones will hope to force the issue with the performance of their lives, and would do so as V35s. In the same age group, Tracy Barlow will be hoping to get back to the form that led her to selection for the 2017 World Champs.

It seems odd to find Lily Partridge so far down the list, one compiled based on rankings during the qualifying period. Back in April 2018 Partridge was Britain’s best female marathoner, with her 2.29.24 good enough for 8th place at that year’s hot London Marathon. An unfortunate series of races and injuries since will have been highly frustrating for the athlete coached by her father, who has since seen her competitors reach new levels. A strong performance in the trials will see her catapult her way back into contention, though she will need to run the qualifying time.

An interesting addition will be Charlotte Arter, making her debut over the distance but with credentials over the half (69.40 PB) to really mix things up in this event.

Our Team Predictions: Davis, Inglis, Partridge

The Men

By contrast on paper the Olympic team for the men picks itself, though there are plenty who have rightful claims to break the triumvirate. Callum Hawkins barring injury will travel and aim to improve on two fourth place finishes in consecutive World Champs. A class athlete, he has proved that in Championship racing conditions he always has a chance and will be hoping to enjoy success, in a country where he has won the Marugame Half Marathon.

With Jonny Mellor and Ben Connor amongst others, New Balance Manchester have the right to label themselves as Britain’s long distance school of excellence. For Mellor, a GB representative indoors over 3000m, this Olympic cycle has been marked by consistency but he has found himself injured at the least opportune time. His 2.10.03 in Valencia in 2019 was comfortably inside the 2.11.30 standard and he has backed that up with a British Champs win in October in London.

Connor on the other hand has only recently made the step up, enjoying success on the track, as an athlete who was less than 10 seconds from the 5,000 qualifying time. His step up to the marathon however was more than justified by running 2.11.20 on his first attempt. With the standard in the back pocket, Connor will head to Kew Garden’s knowing a creditable performance or slow race for others will leave him with an Olympic spot. It will be interesting to see his tactics if he does race, whether he will run to a time he knows himself capable, running the risk that he drags others with him, or sit and see how the race plays out.

One athlete watching his every move, will be one who had a luckless 2019. Illness prevented Dewi Griffiths from kicking on after a 2.09.49 performance in 2018 that underlined his credentials as a world class marathoner. Forcing the issue, he has the pedigree to upset the applecart though much may depend on how much long term illness has taken out of him. His recent outing over 10,000 in Newport shows he is not in bad form (28.45).

Behind the quartet, there’s a whole host of athletes each within three and half minutes of qualifying. Derek Hawkins will hope for back to back Olympics but has struggled to replicate the form that helped him to 2.12.49 in Frankfurt in 2019 and does not make the start line. British bronze medalist Josh Griffiths has just over 90 seconds to find, and will hope for good conditions on the day. He may yet force the selectors hands.

Steve Vernon, coach of New Balance Manchester will have further interest, from V40 British record holder Andrew Davies (2.14.36), an athlete whose run in Valencia was his fastest ever, all past his 40th birthday.

Hoping to roll back the years is Chris Thompson, one of the most likeable athletes on the circuit and a 2012 Olympian in the 10,000m. His 2.13.32 in London remains competitive but was disappointing in light of a 61.00 second place in the Big Half. You would be hard to begrudge him one last renaissance in the British trials race. If he does in context it may be one of his finest achievements in a career which include a 2010 European silver medal over 10,000.

Matt Clowes, went out at qualfying pace in the most recent Valencia marathon and will have one last chance in Kew Gardens. A PB of 2.13.57 leaves him with two and a half minutes to find.

Nick Earl‘s base in Australia will mean the Olympic trials lack the 2.14.38 runner but Robbie Simpson (2.14.56) will be hoping for a major breakthrough. Adam Hickey will hope to finally translate his talent over the cross to the roads.

Finally expect to see an athlete potentially making their debut over the marathon distance. Tom Evans (63.14 half PB) has already expressed his desire for an Olympic tilt though his efforts have so far focused on the 5,000. An attempt at the full distance would not be out of character for the ultra marathon man and could be an interesting curveball should he contest the trials.

Our Team Predictions: Hawkins, Mellor, Connor

Featured image “World Half Marathon Championships 2016” by Sum_of_Marc is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Tokyo calling for Team GB’s 5 & 10k hopefuls

Mo Farah’s Olympic dominance added a certain sparkle to Great Britain and NI’s credentials over track’s longest two distances, but it is one which has provided many rewards over the years.

The sport may have moved on since George Hutson’s 15.07 was enough to win him bronze in the 5000 in 1912, but as it has GB has kept the pace. Gordon Pirie and Derek Ibbotson’s were 2 and 3 in Melbourne in 1956, Ian Stewart with the bronze in 1972, before 40 years later Mo won Britain’s first gold, repeating the feat 4 years later. In the 10,000 before Mo, James Wilson and Brendan Foster won bronzes with Mike McLeod in Los Angeles 84 Britain’s sole male silver.

As soon as the opportunity arose, British women made their mark, Wendy Sly winning 3000 silver in Los Angeles ’84 and Yvonne Murray the bronze in ’88. In that same Seoul Olympics Liz McColgan won the first silver up for grabs in the Olympic debut women’s 10,000m. No medals have come since Seoul, after which the 3,000 became 5,000 and both sexes were competing on an even keel.

Hoping to follow in these footsteps, twelve places, four disciplines, and another Olympics with medal interests for British track fans.

5000 Metres (Men)

World Athletics couldn’t have set the bar much higher to qualify for the 29th Olympics, with 13.13.50 almost ten seconds quicker than the 2019 World Champs. As it stands only two men have got within the standard, but there are a few more who will be hoping to make the cut.

The fastest on paper is Andrew Butchart, who 13.06.21 was run at the Anniversary Games in July 2019 and makes him the third fastest Brit of all time. Having undergone surgery on his Achilles in April his post-COVID debut came in December in Albi, France running a 28.52 road 10k. With 8 months to get back to his best, the Rio 2016 finalist, should make the plane to Tokyo.

2020, however, has very much been the year of Marc Scott. His 13.08.70 indoors in Boston in February set the standard, before runnning 13.20 in the Podium 5K in August, as well as showing his range with a 60.39 second place in the Antrim Coast Half Marathon. The man in form and 4th all time Brit, barring exceptional circumstances the Yorkshireman should be on the plane to Tokyo and will go there with final ambitions.

For the rest the race may come down to who can reach the qualifying time. Sam Atkin has 5 seconds to find, though he has already reached the 10,000 standard. He may throw his hand to giving himself the choice and chase the standard once more, with Payton Jordan Invitational on 7th May 2021 looking a realistic chance.

Ben Connor is just 6 seconds away from qualification though has made his intentions clear at the Marathon where he not only has the qualifying standard but also looks well positioned to make the team.

Former European U23 Cross Country champ Jonathan Davies continues to compete but will need an improvement of 10 seconds from his current personal best. British Champs silver medallist Jack Rowe made a real breakthrough with his performance in Sport City, but such is the standard the Aldershot, Farnham and District athlete will be looking for a 24 second improvement. Emile Cairess will hope for a similar improvement to springboard himself into Olympic contention.

Our Team Predictions: Andrew Butchart, Marc Scott, Sam Atkin

5000 Metres (Womens)

Getting to an Olympics is hard, but made all the more hard if your event is the women’s 5,000.

15.10.00 is the mark required but achieving it is far from a guarantee of selection. 4 women have so far got the qualifying mark, Laura Weightman, Laura Muir, Eilish McColgan and Melissa Courtney-Bryant. For scheduling reasons we’ve already discussed in our predictions for the 1500m, McColgan seems the most likely to take the berth.

McColgan, the Rio and Doha finalist will aim to make it four consecutive Major Championships finals, her 14.46 pb putting her fourth on the British all-time list. Aiming to join her will be 4 athletes within 10 seconds of the standard.

Reebok Boston Track Club star Amy Eloise-Neale has already come within a whisker of the qualifying standard within 6 weeks of the qualifying window opening in May 2019. Her 15.11.11 remains her PB but she has been hamstrung by a lack of 5,000m opportunities in the USA. Things look more promising in that respect early in 2021 and the athlete originally of Wakefield AC will aim to finally claim her space.

Steph Twell is next on the list though looks more likely to contest the 10,000 if she steps down from the Marathon. Like the Marathon, over 25 laps of the track she already has the standard. Another athlete precocious in her youth, Jess Judd is coming off the back of her maiden British Champs 5,000 win and will be looking for a fast field to shave off the final 6.5 seconds. Her dominant win in SportCity included a sub 2.12 last 800 and questions may come down to what races she and her father can find.

British Champs 2020 – 5000m Final

Though within 10 and 15 seconds respectively of the standard, Rosie Clarke and Sarah Inglis will likely focus on the Steeple and Marathon, events in which both athletes are just outside the standard.

Finally Jenny Nesbitt, Verity Ockenden and Amelia Quirk will all hope for breakthroughs in 2021.

Our Team Predictions: McColgan, Neale, Judd

10,000 Metres (Men)

Only one man holds the 10,000 qualifying standard and it’s not the 4 time Olympic champion Mo Farah. Sam Atkin‘s 27.26.58 in California was not bad for someone only entering the race as a pacemaker. 4th on the all-time list and almost 1.5 seconds within the standard, the performance was done on the back of chasing the 5,000 standard the day before and suggests there is significant potential to improve.

Despite Atkin’s efforts Farah will still consider himself team GB’s top dog and with 10 global titles it’s had to make a compelling argument against. Sir Mo’s hour world record shows he’s still a force on the track but he will be facing stronger competition than ever before. In Joshua Cheptegui Uganda has a world champion and in Jacob Kiplimo (the World Half Marathon Champ) he will be pushed every step of the way. Outside the Ugandans a whole host of Kenyans have impressed on the road but if experience has taught us anything it’s not to write off Farah. In a tactical race where his peers think he is past his best, the Brit may yet punish them with a finishing kick.

Farah’s last global gold.

Behind Atkin and Farah the 27.28 standard is one only 5 athletes in British history have ever managed, though Jake Smith will hope to carry over his half marathon form back to the track. His 60.31 in Poland has set himself in world class company over that distance but he will know significant improvements are required over the shorter distance. A different type of event to the road, many have struggled to make the transition but having time trialed a solo 28.00 in July he will be confident of making that jump.

The best of the rest remains Marc Scott who seems certain to contest the 5,000 and Ben Connor who will be taking a spot in the Marathon team. Nick Goolab will have faint hopes of making the breakthrough and Ross Millington may yet step back down after his debut marathon attempt in London. If he does he will have to take 28 seconds off his 2016 personal best ran prior to representing GB in Rio.

Our Team Predictions: Farah, Atkin, Smith (Farah to win bronze)

10,000 Metres (Women)

31.25 is the qualifying standard for Tokyo and two women have met that standard, both doing so in one of my favourite domestic meets, the Night of the 10,000 at Parliament Hill. In 2019 Steph Twell and Eilish McColgan ran to 6th and 7th on the Brit all-time list in 31.08 and 31.16 respectively. Both have interests elsewhere but I for one would love to see both contest the 10,000. Twell will have to choose between the 10,000 and the marathon but McColgan could forseeably run both the 5,000 and 10,000, though I think we will see her focus on one.

Northern Arizona Elite’s Alice Wright will hope to get back to her 2019 best after a long injury lay off and Payton Jordan Invitational could provide the location for another Olympic qualifying hunt. With almost zero 10,000 events taking place in 2020 it’s a difficult one to call but improvements over the shorter distances from Amelia Quirk and Verity Ockenden could lead these two to step up in distance. Both athletes have performed well in longer format cross country races over the years and may use the slightly weaker 10,000 field as a better chance of an Olympic berth.

Like the 5,000 Sarah Inglis has displayed her credentials at the 10,000 and needs to find around 46 seconds from her 2019 best. With a strong performance in the Marathon Project in Arizona the Scottish athlete will have to decide which event she will commit to. Other athletes pondering the same question include Wales’s Charlotte Arter who’s 32.15 from 2018 remains her personal best but she has performed well over both the 5k and half marathon on the road in the intervening period.

Our Team Predictions: McColgan, Twell, Wright

Featured image “Mo Farah and Galen Rupp at the London Olympics” by TerryGeorge. is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Olympic aspirations, GB’s middle distance hopefuls

Few countries have a tradition as proud as British middle-distance running. Bannister’s first four minute mile, the dominance of Coe, Cram and Ovett and the trailblazing barefoot feet of Zola Budd, these are but highlights in a deep history. It is a fact that makes recent troubles all the more disheartening. In that wonderful August week of 2004, Kelly Holmes provided the exception, kicking her way to GB’s first 800 and 1500 Olympic double. Take her bronze in Sydney out of the equation and not since 1988 have Great Britain & NI had an Olympic medallist at either the 800 or 1500m.

Times may have changed, but 2021 could represent a genuine renaissance, with a handful of realistic medal contenders across both distances and for both men and women. Getting on the plane to Tokyo will be a battle in and of itself, with Olympic final ambitions a credible goal for all those who succeed.

800 Metres (Men)

In 2020 only 2 men in the world ran a faster two laps round the track than Daniel Rowden. What makes it all the more ominous is that he did it aged 22 and after having stomach surgery to treat Mals (Median arcuate ligament syndrome). Throw in the fact that on the only occasion he raced one of the two quicker he comfortably beat them, and did so with an almost Rudisha-esque smoothness of stride and you have an athlete that British fans have every reason to get excited about. Questions will come about how he can handle a three round championship but on 2020 form and with age on his side, Rowden should punch his ticket to Tokyo, and if he does will be one every athletics fan should keep their eyes on.

Rowden’s world-class victory in the Memorial Borisa Hanzekovica

What’s long forgotten is that going into the British Champs in September, Rowden wasn’t even the favourite for the 800m, having been beaten by Elliot Giles in Sweden and with Jake Wightman having run the second fastest British 1500m of all time a few weeks before in Monaco. Both will take to any start line believing they can compete with Rowden but if they don’t there’ll be a whole host of suitors lining up to take their shot. With the schedule unlikely to realistically allow Wightman to contest both the 800 and 1500m in Tokyo (unless he wants to sacrifice any realistic medal prospects) it would seem there are 2 places up for grabs, and in this it seems likely it will come down to a straight shootout in the 2021 British Champs from a stupidly deep field. 3 will come from the below 6.

Athlete2020 Seasons BestPBMajor Performances (Senior)
Daniel Rowden1.
Elliot Giles1.44.561.44.562016 – Euro Champs – Bronze
Jamie WebbInjured1.44.522019 – Euro Indoors Silver
Max Burgin1.44.751.44.75
Kyle Langford1.44.831.44.832018 Commonwealth Games Silver, 2017 World Champs 4th
Guy Learmonth1.45.571.44.732014 Commonwealth Games 6th
PB/SBs taken from Power of 10 at 23 December 2020

Our Team Prediction – Daniel Rowden, Elliot Giles and Jamie Webb (Rowden to win Bronze)

800 Metres (Women)

Although the 800m has two clear front runners in Jemma Reekie and Laura Muir, Tokyo 2020 scheduling means the 800m slot for GB could be thrown wide open. Anyone wishing to do the double would have to run 6 times in 8 days and though possible it seems sensible that the pairs coach, Andy Young, will split them between the events.

Friday 30th July800m Round One
Saturday 31st July 800m Semi-Finals
Monday 2nd August1500m Round One
Tuesday 3rd August 800m Final
Wednesday 4th August1500m Semi-Finals
Friday 6th August 1500m Final

Given Reekie ran a British record indoors in Glasgow in February 2020 (1.57.91), won the Diamond League and has beaten all but Faith Kipyegon on the circuit, the 22 year old Scot would start the campaign as a realistic gold medal prospect. Muir’s 1.58.44 is mightily impressive and she has doubled up in the past but her better prospects perhaps lie in the 1500m. With Kipyegon so imperious in that event and highly likely to seek to defend her Olympic crown (at the expense of a 800m double), you could see why Muir may want a shot at both events.

Lynsey Sharp, the Commonwealth Games and European silver medallist has run a faster 800m than both of them, running 1.57.69 in her Olympic Final in Rio and she will aim to get back to form and earn her place in 2021. She has also run the qualifying time back in July 2019.

Behind the three of them no other athletes have as yet run the qualifying time of 1.59.50. If either of Adelle Tracey or Alex Bell can shave four tenths of a second of their personal bests they’ll both be highly likely to get the 3rd spot. The same can be said for Shelayna Oskan-Clarke, if she can get back to her best and youngsters Keely Hodgkinson and Isabelle Boffey will be dreaming of a late push, though sitting over 1.5 seconds outside the qualifying mark both may be eyeing Paris 2024 as the ultimate goal.

Sarah McDonald has run within half a second of the qualifying time though will likely focus on the 1500m where she already has the time.

Our Team Prediction: Jemma Reekie, Lynsey Sharp, Adelle Tracey (Reekie to win Silver)

1500 Metres (Mens)

The British Champs on 26-27 June will be worth tuning in for this race alone. 9 athletes have genuine aspirations of making the squad, though only 4 have yet run the Olympic qualifying time of 3.35.00. In prime position, Jake Wightman, whose 3.29.47 in Monaco was not only third in a world class field, but the second fastest by a Brit ever. Whilst he chose to compete in the 800m in the 2020 British champs, in the 1500m he has a genuine outside chance of an Olympic medal and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him on the plane irrespective of whether he performs in the British Champs or not.

The best of the rest for me is Josh Kerr who wasn’t able to make the British Champs in 2020 due to currently residing in Seattle, but still ran 3.34.53 in his only outing this year. With a 3.32.52 PB and youth on his side the three time NCAA champion should have enough. Charlie Da’Vall Grice and James West will both have something to say about that statement, the former’s 3.30.62 in Monaco in 2019 a reminder of his pedigree. If Grice can get back to the form that led him to a World Championship final in 2015 the place is his, though he will need to improve from recent outings on the domestic circuit. West by comparison is an athlete on the up having ran GB’s second fastest 1500m in 2020. His 5th place in the Doha Diamond league shows he’s rounding into form at just the right time and he has a strong claim to upset the established order.

Behind them are a group who are all chasing the qualifying time, though each of them have their reasons. Piers Copeland leads the pack and needs to find just 33 hundredths of a second to qualify. Chris O’Hare didn’t compete beyond February and will be confident of achieving the standard but will be facing stiffer competition than he ever has before. A genuine world class competitor with a 3.32.11 PB he should, however, be dismissed at your peril.

British Champ and son of England footballer Danny, George Mills has a finishing kick which will play into his hands in any slower Championship race but he will likely spend the first half of the year chasing that qualifying standard. Both him and Josh Lay will need to find in the region of two seconds but as U23’s may have Paris 2024 in their sights.

Finally Neil Gourlay is an athlete that struggled with injuries in 2020. He has shown his class in the past as a European Indoor finalist and will have hopes of putting together a run of form.

Our Team Predictions: Jake Wightman, Josh Kerr, James West (and one of these three to knick a medal)

1500 Metres (Womens)

GB has 6 athletes well inside the Olympic Standard of 4.06.10. Laura Muir, Laura Weightman, Sarah McDonald, Jemma Reekie, Melissa Courtney-Bryant and Eilish McColgan. Selection for this event may be less of a headache for selectors with scheduling again making a 800/1500 double unlikely and a 1500/5000 double the same (The women’s 1500m Round 1 is on the same day as the 5000 final).

With our prediction that Reekie is to do the 800 and Muir the 1500, McColgan, Weightman and Courtney-Bryant will all have to decide whether it will be the 1500 or the 5000. Weightman is world class in both events and in 2020 boasted the 5th fastest time in the world in the longer event. With the front of the field almost 30 seconds ahead of her, however, she may be better suited to a medal in a tactical race over the shorter distance. Her and Steve Cram will have to decide, but either way there will be a slot open in either event by her moving aside. McColgan seems almost certain to compete over the longer distance so from there the team could pick itself, if Courtney-Bryant choose to step up to 5,000 also.

McDonald has the best of the PBs from outside Muir and Weightman and will hope to remind selectors of her credentials after a raceless 2020. Like Sharp in the 800, McDonald has the qualifying time from July 2019.

Jess Judd and Katie Snowden have the pedigree to prize open a place but will have to improve on their 2020 form. With the front-runners established as genuinely world class the door, for now, is only very slightly ajar.

Muir will go into the event as one of the favourites, though Faith Kipyegon’s form over 2020 has been imperious to say the least. Sifan Hassan had a quiet 2020 by comparison but will no doubt be there or thereabouts should she decided to contest the 1500m.

Our predictions: Muir, Weightman, Courtney-Bryant (Muir to win silver).

Featured image “Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon, Laura Muir und weitere 1500-Meter-Läuferinnen bei den IAAF Leichtathletik-Weltmeisterschaften 2017 in London” by marcoverch is licensed under CC BY 2.0