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UK Athletics Championships 2024 - Preview

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27/06/2024 00:00, In Blog / Track & Field /

Olympic places, national titles, personal bests and a first chance to shine at senior level – Welsh athletes are chasing a variety of goals at this weekend’s UK Athletics Championships.

This weekend’s event in Manchester carries added significance as it doubles up as the Great Britain team selection trials for this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris.

Leading the charge for places in Paris will be sprinter Jeremiah Azu (Cardiff Athletics), who earlier this summer became the first Welshman to dip under the coveted 10 second barrier for 100m.

Azu’s 9.97s is the second fastest time by a British sprinter this year and gives him the qualifying time for Olympic selection.

However, to earn his place on the plane to Paris, Azu will need to aim for a top two finish at the Manchester Regional Arena on Saturday, where he will be up against the likes of Louie Hinchcliffe, the fastest British athlete this year. British record holder Zharnel Hughes has withdrawn from the championship through injury.

Other Welsh sprinters lining up in the men’s 100m will be GB international Sam Gordon (Cardiff Athletics), former Welsh champion Dewi Hammond (Cardiff Athletics) and Dan Beadsley (Swansea Harriers).

They will be joined by 17-year-old prospects Joe Berry (Newport Harriers) and Lewis Stephens (Cardiff Athletics), who are part of the Welsh Athletics National Development Programme.

The men’s 100m ambulant race features Paralympic hopeful James Ledger (DSW Para Athletics), who is close to PB form this summer.

Another Welsh athlete with the qualifying time for Paris is 1500m runner Melissa Courtney-Bryant (Poole AC), who ran a new Welsh record of 3:58.01 at the Diamond League Meeting in Poland last July.

Like Azu, Courtney-Bryant, who has had limited opportunities to race this summer, will need to claim a top two finish in Sunday’s final in order to be assured of a place in Paris.

The Commonwealth Games bronze medallist will be up against the likes of Olympic silver medallist Laura Muir and reigning British champion Katie Snowdon. Joining Courtney-Bryant in the 1500m heats will be Angharad Davies (Carmarthen Harriers).

The hugely competitive men’s 1500m, where Britain has enjoyed huge success at recent global championships, sees GB international and British indoor 1500m champion Piers Copeland (Pontypridd Roadents) lead the Welsh challenge against the likes of Olympic champion Jake Wightman.

The Commonwealth Games athlete is joined by newly crowned Welsh 800m champion Justin Davies (Team Bath), the in-form Ben Reynolds (Cardiff Athletics) and Oliver Barbaresi (Thames Valley Harriers).

Joe Brier (Swansea Harriers) was part of the GB 4x400m team at the Tokyo Olympics and a member of the squad which secured qualification for this year’s games with their performance at the World Relay Championships in the Bahama’s earlier this year.

Brier will be lining up in the 400m heats in Manchester and will be looking for a performance to help retain his place in the relay squad for Paris.

Meanwhile, his sister Hannah Brier (Swansea Harriers), who was part of the GB 4x400m squad for the World Indoor Athletics Championships, will be hoping to catch the eye in the women’s 400m.

Also lining up in the one-lap sprint heats will be Sian Harry (Belgrave Harriers), Ffion Mair Roberts (Menai Track and Field) and Tess McHugh (Sale Harriers), who recently won the Welsh title in a new PB.

In the field events, the men’s and women’s shot put see a plethora of Welsh talent taking part, including athletes already selected to represent GB at the Paris Paralympics later in the summer.

Sabrina Fortune (Wrexham AC) will be hoping to continue her excellent form after winning a gold medal at the World Para Athletics Championships last month.

Fortune will line up in a hugely competitive women’s shot put along with two Welsh athletes who are in outstanding form this season.

Adele Nicoll (Birchfield Harriers) has continued to illustrate her remarkable ability to switch seamlessly from the global bobsleigh circuit to top level athletics.

Having claimed a bobsleigh World Cup medal during the winter Nicoll showed PB form in winning the Welsh title two weeks ago and is going for a hat-trick of British titles.

Meanwhile, Sarah Omoregie (Cardiff Athletics/Vanderbilt University) enjoyed a successful American collegiate season culminating in her claiming an eighth-place finish at the prestigious NCAA Outdoor Championships in Oregon, which also brought her All American First Team status.

In the men’s event, Patrick Swan (Cornwall AC), who is in PB form will be hoping to make the podium once again after winning bronze at last year’s event.

Two more Welsh athletes already named in the GB squad for the Paralympics will be competing in Manchester.

Olivia Breen (City of Portsmouth) will line-up in the women’s ambulant 100m, where she will face Sophie Hahn, who she beat to win Commonwealth Games gold for Wales. Breen will also compete in the long jump.

Holly Arnold (Blackheath and Bromley Harriers AC), who like Fortune also won gold at the World Para Athletics Championships, will feature in the women’s javelin.

Arnold will be joined in the competition by Freya Jones (Newham and Essex Beagles), who will be looking for a podium spot having thrown a new Welsh record of 54.63m already this season.

The men’s discus features more Welsh para stars in the shape of World Para Athletics Championships bronze medallist Harrison Walsh (DSW Para Athletics) and Michael Jenkins (Pembrokeshire Harriers), who broke the F38 World record in Coventry earlier this season.

They will be joined by another Pembrokeshire product - former GB Juniors co-captain James Tomlinson (Birchfield Harriers), who won the Welsh title earlier this month, and Olympian Brett Morse (Cardiff Athletics).

In the women’s high jump, Hannah Lake (Cardiff Athletics) will be up against the likes of heptathlon world champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson and namesake Morgan Lake, who won Commonwealth Games silver in 2018.

Meanwhile, Tom Walley (Wrexham AC), will be aiming to reach even greater heights as he takes part in the men’s pole vault.

On the track, an athlete looking to get amongst the medals is young race walker Gracie Griffiths (Pembrokeshire Harriers), who claimed silver in 2022.

Meanwhile, sprint hurdler Tom Wilcock (Northampton AC) will be looking to improve on the fourth place finish he achieved in the 110m hurdles at last year’s championships. Emerging multi-eventer Abi Pawlett (Trafford Athletic Club) runs in the women’s 100m hurdles and will also contest the long jump

In the longer track distances, David Locke (Cardiff Athletics) will toe the line in the men’s 800m, where he is up against the likes of 1500m World Champion Josh Kerr, while the women’s races will feature Rachel McClay-Thomas (Bracknell AC).

Thomas Chaston (Belgrave/University of Portland) who has travelled back from the US will also be lining up in the men's 3000m steeplechase and will be hoping to improve on his season's best of 8:48:24 which he set at the Bryan Clay Invitational in April.

Fresh from winning a half-marathon team gold for Great Britain at the European Athletics Championships, Clara Evans (Pontypridd Roadents), drops down to the 5,000m in Manchester. She will be joined by clubmate and fellow Welsh Commonwealth Games athlete Jenny Nesbitt and Cari Hughes (Swansea Harriers), who has recorded PBs across a range of distances this season.

In the men’s 5,000m, Osian Perrin (Menai Track and Field) will be going into the championships in good form after running 7:55.90 in Italy last week.

You can keep up with Saturday and Sunday’s action live on the BBC Red Button.

The full timetable can be viewed here.

Further event information can be found here.