Two of Great Britain’s Olympic gold medallists will have their World Championship hopes revived or dashed over the coming days.
Jessica Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford are struggling to be fit for the showpiece in Moscow, which is now less than two weeks away.
The heptathlete is in the early stages of her comeback from an Achilles tendon injury which has damaged her season, and she sounded a distinctly downbeat note after competing in the 100 metres hurdles and long jump in the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday.
Long jumper Rutherford missed the event because of a torn hamstring and has to convince UK Athletics performance director Neil Black he is fit enough to be picked at the expense of Chris Tomlinson. Because neither man has the ‘A’ qualifying standard, only one can go. Black will inform the athletes of his pick today.
Ennis-Hill ran 13.08 seconds over the hurdles, her first race since London 2012, before only managing a disappointing 6.16 metres in the long jump.
She said she would see how the injury to her left ankle reacted over the coming days, with potentially another competition next weekend if all was well to build race sharpness.
But, perhaps tellingly, the 27-year-old said she wanted to make a decision over her World Championship participation “sooner rather than later”.
She admitted that her coach Toni Minichiello would probably want to leave it as late as possible. The heptathlon in Moscow is over 12 and 13 August.
Ennis-Hill said: “I don’t want to go and not be ready and not be competitive. I’ve got more to lose than to gain really. I want to go there and be a contender for a gold medal, that’s the thought process.”
Tomlinson needed to jump the ‘A’ standard of 8.25m on Saturday to book his place on the plane, but only managed a best of 7.99m, with four of his six jumps fouls. The Middlesbrough athlete believes he should still get the nod as he is the athlete in form, but fears Rutherford’s reputation will swing it for him.
He said: “I am in better shape at the moment, I am jumping well.
“I think on current form, on current shape, I’d be on the team. But obviously he’s [Rutherford] got that [Olympic title] and that has to be taken into account.
“I’ve been in all the finals since 2008, I am always there or thereabouts.”
Rutherford said last week that Black had told him he would get the discretionary pick provided he was fit.
But he added: “It’s not about me turning up to make up the numbers. I don’t want to say, ‘I went to a World Championships’, I want to say, ‘I won a World Championships’. If I’m not fit and I feel in my heart of hearts I can’t do it, I will pull myself out.”
There was still plenty of reason to cheer from a British point of view at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday, with Mo Farah destroying the opposition on the way to victory and a personal best of 7:36.85 over 3,000m.
Christine Ohuruogu clocked her fastest time outside a major championships by winning the 400m in 50.00, while, on Friday, Perri Shakes-Drayton showed she is in the form of her life with a personal best 53.67 in the 400m hurdles.