2017 British Athletics Indoor Team Trials Preview: Britain's best battle for a place on the plane to Belgrade

2017 British Athletics Indoor Team Trials Preview: Britain's best battle for a place on the plane to Belgrade

Hundreds of the country's best athletes will compete for the honour of being crowned British Indoor champion and battle for a place on the British Athletics team for the European Indoor Championships in March.

adam-bailey
Adam Bailey

Britain's best athletes will gather in Sheffield this weekend as they compete for the prestigious honour of being crowned British Indoor champion and battle for a place on the British Athletics team for the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade at the start of March.

Sprint events are set to be hotly contested

The English Institute of Sport in Sheffield has played host to some memorable moments in recent years and this year is set to be no different with hundreds of Britain's best athletes looking to get 2017 off to a good start.

The sprint events are often the most hotly contested events and this year's men's 60m hurdles is set to be one of the highlights of the weekend. Defending champion Andrew Pozzi arrives in Sheffield having set the world leading time at last weekend's indoor meeting in Karlsruhe, Germany. The 24-year-old won his heat in a time of 7.49, before beating world and Olympic medallists in an even faster 7.44 in the final.

Last year was the third time Pozzi had been crowned national indoor champion, but he has never successfully defended his title. Lawrence Clarke, who finished runner-up last year, denied him in 2015 and the 26-year-old will be hoping for a repeat in Sheffield on Saturday. David Omoregie, who trains with Pozzi, has finished second (2016) and third (2015) in the last two years and he will be hoping to complete that sequence with a first-place finish.

The men's 60m is expected to be another highlight, featuring some of the best sprinters in Britain, including former world and reigning European indoor champion Richard Kilty. The 27-year-old will have extra motivation on the start line after he was controversially disqualified in the semi-finals last year and, with last year's winner James Dasaolu not competing, his main challenge will most likely come from Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, veteran British sprinter Dwain Chambers and last year's runner-up Andrew Robertson.

Asha Philip​, who finished fifth in the women's 60m at last year's World Indoor Championships in Portland, USA, will be hoping to successfully defend the women's title. She will be boosted by the absence of last year's runner-up Dina Asher-Smith, but the competition is still strong. British long jump record holder Shara Proctor will also compete in the 60m.

Johnson-Thompson will be one of the star attractions

With Jessica Ennis-Hill now retired from the sport, British heptathlon hopes will rest on the shoulders of Katarina Johnson-Thompson. The 24-year-old will be one of the star attractions in Sheffield as she competes in the 60m hurdles and long jump.

Johnson-Thompson will be going head-to-head with world indoor bronze medallist Lorraine Ugen and European silver medallist Jazmin Sawyers in the women’s long jump on Sunday afternoon, which is expected to be a hotly contested competition.

None of last year's 60m hurdles podium is competing in Sheffield this weekend, but last year's winner Tiffany Porter will be hoping her title stays within her family as her younger sister Cindy Ofili will compete in the event. Johnson-Thompson will be hoping she can add this year's 60m hurdles title to the one she won in 2014 on what is going to be a busy Sunday for KJT.

Will it be a record breaking weekend?

Last year, two British records and one world record were broken and race walker Tom Bosworth is looking to follow up last year's 3000m British record by breaking his own British record over 5000m this weekend. Bosworth has taken British race walking to another level in recent years and he will get the chance to compete over 5000m, as opposed to the previous 3,000m event, and he will no doubt be aiming for another British record on Sunday.

The trials could also be the start of a record breaking year for Scottish athlete Eilidh Doyle as her Olympic bronze medal in Rio ties her with Yvonne Murray as the most decorated Scottish athlete in Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth competition, with eleven medals. She will surely soon have that honour all to herself such is her outstanding form and her first chance could be at the European Indoor Championships in March.

However, first the 29-year-old must qualify for the championships in Belgrade and the 400m hurdle specialist is ditching the hurdles this weekend, but she will be hoping to win the British title in the women's flat 400m. She will come up against defending champion Meghan Beesley, Lavia and Lina Nielsen and Victoria Ohuruogu, the younger sister of former Olympic, World and Commonwealth champion Christine.

Can anyone stop Bramble, Peake and Fox in their quest for a third British indoor title?

Dan Bramble will be hoping to secure his third British indoor long jump title after triumphing in 2016 and 2015. The 26-year-old finished sixth at last year's World Indoor Championships and will no doubt face stiff competition from Daniel Gardiner, who has finished 2nd and 3rd in the last two years. Sally Peake will be hoping to add another British title to the Welsh title she won last month in a new Welsh Indoor record (4.15m). The 2015 and 2016 champion's main challenge will most likely come from Jade Ive, who finished behind Peake in second last year.

Nathan Fox will be hoping to once again defend his title in the triple jump after successfully defending his title last year. Julian Reid will be hoping to stop Fox celebrating in 2017 as the bronze medallist at last year's European Outdoor Championships looks to become British Indoor champion for the second time after winning in 2014. Local Sheffield interest will come in the men’s pole vault where Luke Cutts and Adam Hague, who both train at the EIS, will be hoping to capitalise on their home advantage and keep the title in the city after Cutts was victorious in 2016.

19-year-old Morgan Lake is one of the rising stars in British athletes and she will hope to defend her title in the high jump this weekend. After reaching the final at Rio 2016, she became the first British woman to reach an Olympic high jump final since Debbie Marti in 1992.

One national title that will definitley be changing hands will be in the men's jump. Last year saw Chris Baker win an exciting head-to-head battle with Robbie Grabarz. However, Baker is not defending his title this weekend and Grabarz will be favourite to win his fourth British indoor title and add it to the outdoor title he won at the British Athletics Championships in Birmingham last year.

Other athletes to watch

The shock of last year came in the very last race of the championships when 22-year-old Adelle Tracey produced the best performance of her career, beating multiple global medallists Lynsey Sharp and Jenny Meadows to win the hotly anticipated women's 800m. Tracey, who was one of the seven torchbearers who lit the Olympic Cauldron at the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, came from third to first in the final 100m to win the race and she will be hoping to defend her title this weekend.

As will Steph Twell in the women's 3000m, while there will be a new men's 400m national indoor champion for the first time in seven years as Nigel Levine, who has won the last six titles, is not competing in Sheffield after he suffered career-threatening injuries in a serious motorbike accident while attending a training camp in Tenerife last month.

The 400m could see a repeat of the Scottish championships where Callum Chalmers (last year's runner-up) beat Jamie Bowie, while Guy Learmonth will start as the big favourite in the men's 800m after his recent pair of low 1:47s. Scott Lincoln is likely to be a class apart in the shot put as he looks to defend his title.

Alexandra Russell will be the favourite to claim the national triple jump crown based on her recent form, while Rachel Wallader should be dominant in the women's shot put.

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