Alexandra Bell sounds call for selectors to learn from past mistakes

Back to the wall: Alexandra Bell faces tough opposition as she aims to land a place in the World Championships.
Back to the wall: Alexandra Bell faces tough opposition as she aims to land a place in the World Championships.
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Leeds runner Alexandra Bell has urged British Athletics to maximise their selection for this summer’s home World Championships after controversy overshadowed her event prior to London 2012.

Bell heads to the national trials in Birmingham today looking to secure a place in the British squad for next month’s showpiece at the Olympic Stadium.

Athlete Laura Weightman pictured at Leeds Beckett University.
(Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

Athlete Laura Weightman pictured at Leeds Beckett University. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

As the host nation, Britain can have up to three representatives in each event and Bell’s race, the 800m, will be one of the most fiercely contested this weekend.

At London 2012, the last time a major athletics meeting was held on these shores, the two-lap event threw up one of the most controversial selections in British athletics history.

The selectors shunned long-term rivals Jenny Meadows and Marilyn Okoro, who both had the A qualifying standard, in order to select European silver medallist Lyndsey Sharp – who only had a B qualifying mark.

Sharp’s selection meant British Athletics gave up their right to have three runners in the event and it eventually backfired as the Scot crashed out in the semi-finals.

They have to take a full three for a home games. Why would you miss out on an opportunity like that? Everyone is always looking over their shoulder but there are a few of us that are up and coming. That’s only going to drive up the standard.

Alexandra Bell

Sharp will once again vie for a squad place in Birmingham but faces the emerging pack of runners including Bell, Sheylayna Oskan-Clarke, Adelle Tracey, Jessica Judd and Katie Snowden. With British women’s middle-distance running on the dawn of a new era – spearheaded by the talents of medal contender Laura Muir – Bell is hoping the selectors will learn from the past controversy.

She said: “They have to take a full three for a home games. Why would you miss out on an opportunity like that?

“Everyone is always looking over their shoulder but there are a few of us that are up and coming. That’s only going to drive up the standard.”

Bell, who runs for Pudsey, reached the final at the national trials 12 months ago as a fastest loser but struggled to adopt her race plan in the final after an exhausting search for a qualifying time in the lead up to the trials. This time around, Bell, who was put on British funding for the first time at the end of last year, only has one of the two sub two-minute one-second clockings required for an A qualification but would have time to record it after the trials.

She added: “It’s going to be the race to watch again, like last year. If we can all make the start line in that final, it will be some race. There’s a lot of girls at the minute that have run a quick time. But it’s not all about the times, it’s how you race it. It could be the slowest 800m race that we’ve ever had, but it’s all about tactics.”

Elsewhere in Birmingham, double Olympian Laura Weightman will aim for a third consecutive world championship appearance in the 1,500m.

Injury forced Weightman to pull out of her semi-final in Beijing two years ago and the Leeds-based athlete went out in the heats in Moscow in 2013. The 25-year-old sits second on the British rankings behind rising star Muir.

Sheffield and Dearne pair Adam Hague and Luke Cutts are poised for a head-to-head battle in the pole vault, requiring a clearance of 5.70m to reach London.

York shot-putter Scott Lincoln finished 10th for Team GB at the European Team Championships last weekend and needs to improve his personal best by more than a metre to earn qualification to compete at the Olympic Stadium.

Lincoln, who has a personal best of 19m, will bid to retain his British title for a third consecutive year.

Teesside’s Richard Kilty will hope to shake off the illness that made him miss the European Team Championships as he battles for a place in the men’s 100m against 10-second runners Nathaneel Mitchell-Blake and Chijindu Ujah.

Desiree Henry goes into the women’s 100m as favourite, having clocked 11.09sec in America earlier this year.

Olympic race walker Tom Bosworth secured his berth at the worlds by winning the British 20km title in Leeds last weekend.

Bosworth beat training partner Callum Wilkinson in a sprint finish in Roundhay Park in a time of one hour, 24 minutes and 58 seconds.

Fellow Leeds racer Gemma Bridge went second on the all-time list as she won the women’s 20km in 1:32.33.