The British Athletics Championships take centre stage this weekend in Manchester as the Tokyo Olympics creep ever closer and athletes from all over the country are desperate to confirm their place as part of Team GB. Mo Farah is in action, but here’s five other stars to watch on a crucial weekend in the athletics calendar.
Daniel Rowden - 800m
The race of the weekend in both the men’s and women’s events could well be the 800m. In the men’s race, the quality of the field is simply superb and the one to watch could be Daniel Rowden, who matched the time of Olympic champion Steve Ovett in Zagreb last year as he ran a 1.44.
The competition will be fierce however. In February, Elliot Giles, who finished second in Zagreb, broke Steve Coe’s UK indoor record with a 1.43.63 while Jamie Webb has also beaten Coe’s time since then.
This isn’t just a three horse race however - far from it, and that is what makes it so tough to call. Oliver Dustin took a remarkable two seconds off his PB in Nice to go below the 1.44 mark but unfortunately injury means the talented youngster Max Burgin will miss this one.
Kyle Langford and Guy Learmonth boast experience but are unlikely to challenge given their form this year, which has seen the top ten all run inside 1.46. This is going to be seriously quick and Rowden could just bring the fireworks. Don’t miss it.
Jemma Reekie & Laura Muir - 800m
We’ve paired these two training partners together as they could be doing battle on track in both the 800m and the 1500m. Like the men’s race, the 800m is the one that could grab the headlines as Jemma Reekie has run the quickest times in the field both indoor and outdoor over the past few months although Laura Muir has shown terrific pace over the shorter distance in 2021.
Alex Bell and Keely Hodgkinson should provide stiff competition for the pair over two laps but it is this match-up that should be well worth a watch this weekend. Muir, the European champion, has dominated the 1500m over the past six years so may choose to focus on the shorter distance given the 1500m final is only an hour before the heats for the 800m.
Reekie however may want to prove herself over the longer distance, having only run the distance once so far this season. When the line-ups for each race are confirmed later this week, we’ll know if we will get our Muir/Reekie match-up.
Daryll Neita - 100m
11.04. That is the time Daryll Neita ran just two weeks ago as she set a new personal best in the 100m at 24 years of age, which makes her the second fastest British woman of all time. This race not only pits her against Dina Asher-Smith again, but also presents her with a serious chance of qualifying for her second Olympics, as she was part of the 4x100m relay team that won bronze in Rio.
That isn’t the only goal for her this weekend though. “I want to go sub 11 seconds. I’m not going to say when I want that to happen but I know I’m capable of that and getting close to where I should be,” she told Athletic Weekly. “In terms of trials, go there, get the job done and get on that plane.”
The sprint events are always worth a watch, and now Neita’s improvement could strengthen what is already a strong relay team in Tokyo.
Jazmin Sawyers - Long Jump
Another elite British athlete and another personal best smashed in recent weeks. Jazmin Sawyers absolutely flew when she jumped 6.90m in California at the start of the month and will be hoping to replicate that performance in Manchester this weekend.
She has now put herself to fourth on the all-time British list and will be competing against British record holder Shara Proctor, Abigail Irozuru and Lorraine Ugen in a talented field. Sawyers, coached by Kelly Sotherton, may not be the favourite to win this event, but her form means that something special could be on the cards this weekend.
“I don’t really think about them too much. I want to focus on myself. I’d love to make the team but if everyone else is better than me that’s the way it is. If I jumped 6.90m and I didn’t make the team I’d be disappointed but I wouldn’t be as gutted if I didn’t perform. When the occasion comes, I want to be the person to rise to it.”
Dina Asher-Smith - 100m
It’s Dina Asher-Smith. The finest female sprinter Britain has ever produced can make history this summer. Just watch her run.