Chris O’Hare has identified England’s Charlie Grice as the main threat to scuppering a repeat of last year’s brilliant Scottish 1-2-3 in the men’s 1,500m at athletics’ British Championships this weekend.
Last July it was, in fact, an all-Edinburgh AC top three in the middle-distance blue riband event as O’Hare led home Jake Wightman and Josh Kerr, with fellow Scot Neil Gourley in fourth place at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium.
Those championships acted as the trials for the world championships in London, for which O’Hare, Wightman and Kerr were selected, and they return to Birmingham this weekend for what doubles as trials for August’s European Championships in Berlin.
British champion O’Hare endured a disappointing eighth-place in the Commonwealth Games final earlier this year, as team-mate Wightman took bronze, but is feeling fresh for his title defence after enjoying his first race in Scotland for three years. O’Hare narrowly defeated Gourley in a specially-arranged 800m “warm-up” at Grangemouth on Sunday and now has Birmingham in his sights.
“I’m ready now to go again next week and the good thing is I am definitely in much better shape than I was in Australia for the Commonwealths,” said O’Hare.
“It is going to be very exciting, that is for sure, and I’d love to see another 1-2-3 for Scots – or even a 1-2-3-4 like last year. Charlie Grice is in better form than a year ago, though, so that’s a big danger and there will be others.
“You just don’t know how it can pan out but I suppose the good thing is it prepares those selected for Berlin itself.”
O’Hare clocked 1.48.35 on Sunday at Grangemouth with Gourley at 1.48.37 with two of the quickest 800m times by Scots in Scotland for a number of years.
“It was a good race and a good test,” said O’Hare, who closed a gap on Giffnock North athlete Gourley in the final 100m for a season-best run.
“I had to work really hard to get back at Neil and I wanted it as competitive as that – because that’s the ideal preparation for next week,” he continued. “The time isn’t significant but it was decent on the day because it was pretty windy on the back straight in particular.”
Scotland’s former Olympic middle-distance runner Frank Clement, meanwhile, has hailed the current crop as the best the country has ever had.
“There’s no doubt at all it is a great era for our men in the 1,500m,” said Clement, who was fourth in the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton and fifth in the 1976 Montreal Olympics over 1,500m.
“To have four or five guys so high in the British rankings reflects well on them as individuals and on the sport. Josh Kerr has shown great form in America in the past couple of years, Jake Wightman’s double bid at the Commonwealths was very good and Chris O’Hare proved in Oslo a couple of weeks ago he is ready to bounce back again.
“All of them are under 3.36 for this year already and people maybe have to appreciate that’s pretty fast. It could be that one of them will have to post 3.33 or 3.34 to top the Scottish rankings for 2018 – it will be fascinating to watch that later this year, never mind what happens in terms of the selection for GB for the Euros in Berlin.
“I would hope they don’t get scared or anxious about racing each other. I think head-to-head meetings will bring the best out of them. It became very rare for Seb Coe and Steve Ovett to race each other and that was a pity.”