Trials and tribulations on the road to Toruń

3 weeks ago
Small selection events at Lee Valley, Loughborough and Manchester on February 20-21 will help UKA pick team for European Indoors

Qualification for next month’s European Indoor Championships in Toruń became a little clearer today (Feb 3) for British athletes after UK Athletics announced its selection criteria for the event.

After the cancellation of the British Indoor Championships in Glasgow, three micro meetings on February 20-21 will be the official ‘European Indoor Selection Trials’ – with the GB team announced on February 22.

As previously reported, the meetings will be at Lee Valley and Loughborough, with Manchester confirmed ahead of Sheffield as the third venue.

READ MORE: Micro-meeting qualifiers for European Indoors

Athletes who wish to be considered for the European Championships in Toruń do not have to do the trials events, but they must hit the qualifying standard for their event at least once and also show current form.

In the run up to this trio of ‘trials weekend’ meetings, there are competitive opportunities in the UK for in Glasgow on February 6, the Bryggen Sports International in Manchester on February 13 and an event in Loughborough on February 13-14.

British athletes are, of course, finding competitions abroad too with sprinters Dina Asher-Smith, Asha Philip and Oliver Bromby plus middle-distance runners Keely Hodgkinson, Elliot Giles and Jamie Webb, to name just a few, finding races across Europe.

UKA say its main priority when picking a team is to “maximise the number of opportunities to win medals” followed by providing opportunities for developing athletes and also for established athletes to achieve British vest.

There is a special clause, too, which allows some unqualified athletes to be picked “due to the limited qualification opportunities” but only in field events – and these athletes must take part in one of the trials events and have ‘top eight potential’.

In addition, selection will only be possible for competitors with an elite athlete exemption because, without this, athletes are unable to train on a track or in a gym let alone travel to a competition this month.

British relay teams have already been invited by European Athletics. A similar system operates for combined events, with Olympic champion Nafi Thiam and world record-holder Kevin Mayer among those invited to Toruń.

British combined eventers will get the chance to qualify at the trials meeting in Manchester although reigning European indoor champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson is currently recovering from an Achilles injury.

Big British stars like Laura Muir and Mo Farah – both with European indoor titles under their belt from the past – are also set to miss the event. But UKA seems keen to pick a strong team with Dina Asher-Smith likely to lead the GB medal hopes in the Polish city in less than a month’s time.

The selection criteria can be seen here but UKA adds: “At the time of publication, the impact of Covid-19 is immense, unpredictable and unknown”, which means the governing body can amend the criteria at its discretion.

Toruń is not totally guaranteed to happen either and, even if it does, there will no spectators. This week the European Throwing Cup in Portugal on March 13-14 was cancelled and this month’s RAK Half-Marathon in the United Arab Emirates has also bitten the dust.

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