UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee says this week’s European Championships is a chance for athletes to “test yourself or select yourself” for the Olympics.
Two years ago in Barcelona the British team won a record haul of 19 medals, including two golds for Mo Farah and a continental title for Sheffield’s Jessica Ennis.
However, while Farah will defend his 5,000m title in Helsinki tonight, the 82-strong squad will be focused more on their hopes of Olympic qualification than stepping on the podium.
Track athletes who gained automatic Olympic places at last weekend’s trials in Birmingham were de-selected from the initial 109-strong team, while those in a strong position to be handed a discretionary place – including sprinter Dwain Chambers – accepted the option not to chase a qualifying time which would guarantee their berth ahead of Sunday’s deadline.
There are a number of Yorkshire athletes all desperate to attain their respective qualifying ‘A’ standards in Helsinki over the coming days.
York’s Richard Buck is a good bet for the 4x400m Olympic relay team but still needs to hit 45.30secs, while Sheffield’s Mukhtar Mohammed will be looking to back up his second place at the trials by hitting the 800m ‘A’ standard of 1:45.60.
Barnsley’s Luke Cutts needs a massive personal best of 5.72m to make the Olympic squad and Cleckheaton’s Sarah Holt requires 71.5m in the hammer.
Wakefield’s Charlene Thomas is after 4:06.00 in the 1,500m while Yorkshire’s two steeplechasers, Hatti Archer and James Wilkinson, are looking for 9:43.00 and 8:23.10 respectively.
Middlesbrough long jumper Chris Tomlinson needs 8.20m to confirm his place.
Van Commenee said: “I always said this was to be seen as preparation for the Games.
“It was never a purpose to select the best possible team to get a great number of medals.
“We have a few final selections to deal with.
“There are some head-to-heads, some athletes need a good performance to be selectable. For some it’s also a really good test to see if they can perform in a championship.
“We have some very good athletes like Robbie Grabarz (high jump) and Lawrence Okoye (discus) who are in the Olympics, but have never been at this sort of competition so that serves a purpose in that area.
“I have approached this championship very much from an individual interest per athlete. It’s test yourself or select yourself.”