UP-and-coming athletes will have the chance to take centre stage in the absence of a host of star names from the Sainsbury’s British Athletics Indoor Championships in Sheffield this weekend.
Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Christine Ohuruogu and Greg Rutherford are all missing from the event today and tomorrow at the English Institute of Sport.
Farah’s sole focus is on preparing for the Virgin Money London Marathon in April, Ennis-Hill is pregnant, Ohuruogu is having a lighter year following her exploits of 2013 when she broke the British 400 metres record in winning World Championship gold, while Rutherford’s start to the season has been delayed by an unspecified injury suffered in training. It means none of Great Britain’s 2012 Olympic or 2013 world champions will be in action.
In their place, James Dasaolu’s 60m showdown with Dwain Chambers will take the lion’s share of attention. The former added spice to the race by saying this week that he has “nothing to do” with his veteran rival and the former drug cheat has been overtaken by the younger generation. Dasaolu is the one in form, his 6.50sec season opener ranking him second in the world, with victory the goal this weekend to seal a place on the team for next month’s World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland. “I just want to book my place on the plane,” he said. “This weekend’s just about practising going through the rounds, similar to what I’m going to do in Sopot.”
He may have given Chambers extra motivation, though. “He is not going to be so much at the forefront of British sprinting any more,” Dasaolu said.
The pair are relay team-mates for Great Britain and both train at Loughborough. But Dasaolu said they are not on speaking terms, adding: “I have nothing to do with Dwain at all.”
Also in action is Scotland’s Laura Muir, who leads the world 800m rankings with 2:00.94, with Jenny Meadows, looking to prove her best days are not behind her, among her opponents.
Another Scot, Gregor MacLean, heads for Sheffield on a high after a Native Record in the pole vault at the Senior Championships. It was the Montrose and District athlete’s first visit to the Emirates Arena and he delivered in fine style with a 5.30m clearance and attempted 5.41m to push up his own National Record for indoors. Now MacLean simply wants to maintain improvement before an outdoor season where he feels he can reach 5.60m prior to the Commonwealth Games. “I was pretty pleased with the 5.30m clearance last weekend,” said MacLean, who won a silver at the British Champs outdoors in 2012 before an injury-hit 2013 season. “It was another Commonwealth Games standard and a native record for indoors. I had never jumped before at the Emirates Arena and I loved it.”
Up to 40 Scots are in Sheffield, including Muir, Allan Smith, David Smith, Kirsty Yates, Allison Rodger, Jamie Bowie, Chris O’Hare, Guy Learmonth, Ryan Oswald, Zoey Clark, Jayne Nisbet, Tom Watson, David Feeney, Henrietta Paxton, Jenny Tan, Andrew Butchart, Ross Matheson, Laura Dunn, Mhairi Patience, Beth Dobbin, Chloe Lambert, Stephen Dunlop, Anthony Young, Jade Nimmo, Sarah Warnock, David Bishop and Zara Asante.