Almost lost among the understandable hyperbole surrounding the Rio Olympics is the fact that the flagship athletics event in Europe starts today (6 July). The European Championships in Amsterdam will run for five days and the largest ever British team will be out to top the medals table, just as they did in Zurich two years ago.
Adam the Lion is the European Games mascot and Britain will be hoping for some lion-hearted performances from almost 100 athletes, with six current champions including everyone’s favourite 42-year-old distance runner, Jo Pavey.
For Pavey, the task is clear as she attempts to defend her 10,000m title. If she is to compete in a record fifth Olympics she needs to run the qualifying time of 32min15sec but after an illness-affected season she only has 33:22:76 from the official trial race at Highgate in her locker at present.
Rio-bound Jess Andrews wins her first senior international vest in the 10,000m where she will join Pavey and Kate Avery. The women’s 5000m will see Steph Twell and former steeplechaser Eilish McColgan in contention after finishing one-two in the British Championships. Laura Whittle also makes the team.
Scottish record holder Andrew Butchart is a notable absentee in the 5000m as he prepares for his first Olympic Games but Jonny Davies and Jonathan Taylor fly the flag for Britain and Dewi Griffiths and Andy Vernon go in the 10,000m.
The steeplechase always produces thrills and often spills and our competitors are Rob Mullett in the men’s and Lennie Waite and Rosie Clarke in the women’s.
An innovation this year is the Half Marathon Cup where full teams have been selected. Callum Hawkins, Tsegai Tewedle, Derek Hawkins, Jonny Hay, Matt Bond and Lee Merrien go in the men’s race and Alyson Dixon, Tina Muir, Charlotte Purdue, Gemma Steel, Lily Partridge and Jess Coulson form the women’s team.
Full details at the European Championships website