Eilidh Doyle wants tougher test on road to Rio

Eilidh Doyle can secure her place at the Rio Olympics when she runs at the Birmingham trials this weekend. Photograph: Karim Jaafar/Getty Images
Eilidh Doyle can secure her place at the Rio Olympics when she runs at the Birmingham trials this weekend. Photograph: Karim Jaafar/Getty Images
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Eilidh Doyle is set to engage cruise control in her bid to wrap up her Olympic spot after it was revealed 400m hurdles rival Meghan Beesley will miss the Games through injury.

Doyle, the reigning UK champion formerly known as Eilidh Child, is among several Scots who can nail down her Rio berth with a top-two finish at the trials in Birmingham this weekend.

But with former foe Perri
Shakes-Drayton focusing on the flat 400m – and Beesley sidelined – the 29-year-old admits she’d love some tougher competition to get a proper dress rehearsal for Brazil.

She said: “The last time I ran a personal best was in 2013 at the Birmingham Diamond League and Perri was there in the race.

“When I look back, it wasn’t a perfect run technically. I’ve run better since. But I did PBs back to back and a lot of that was down to Perri. Because I couldn’t ever be complacent. Not that I was. But I always had that extra fire because I knew she’d be training well and would be going hard.

“At trials, I badly wanted to beat her to be the national champion. And I never got that chance. But it adds more to it, and you see that across every event. When there’s one or two others there doing well, it pushes everyone.”

With Mo Farah absent, Andrew Butchart – who broke the Scottish record in Hengelo last month – can secure a 5,000m place this afternoon.

Steeplechaser Lennie Waite, Chris O’Hare in the 1,500m, Lynsey Sharp in the 800m and 5,000m trio Steph Twell, Eilish McColgan and Laura Whittle will all vie for selection tomorrow – along with world 1,500m finalist Laura Muir.

She said: “I know that if I’m in the top two, then I can go off the track and know I’m going to Rio. But I also want to defend my title.”

Meanwhile, Jessica Ennis-Hill faces a key test of her Olympic preparations in Germany this weekend when she competes in her first heptathlon since winning gold at last year’s World Championships.

The 30-year-old has had to delay her heptathlon return because of an Achilles injury picked up over the winter which ruled her out of the indoor season and forced her to withdraw from last month’s Hypo-Meeting in Gotzis.

While her compatriots battle for places on the Great Britain team for Rio in Birmingham, the London 2012 gold medallist, whose qualification for the Games is already secure, will compete over seven events against a low-key field at the Stadtwerke Ratingen Mehrkampf-Meeting.

Recent indications of the Sheffield athlete’s fitness are good. She last competed – only her second outing of the season – two weeks ago in four events over two days at the Northern Championships in Manchester. She equalled last season’s 200 metres best of 23.42 seconds and recorded her best shot put performance (14.02m) since 2012 and best javelin throw (45.02m) since 2013. She also clocked 13.10secs in the 100m hurdles, running into a headwind.

Ennis-Hill’s toughest competition among a largely German field in Ratingen is likely to come from Carolin Schafer, who recorded a personal best of 6,557 points in Gotzis.

And it is points rather than positions that will be at the forefront of the Briton’s mind this weekend.

Her winning total from the World Championships in 
Beijing last August was 6,669, while Canada’s Brianne 
Theisen-Eaton leads the world rankings with 6,765.