Coventry and Warwickshire’s
brightest Olympic hopes must wait until the final minutes of
qualifying before they know if they are on the plane to Sydney.
Coventry athlete Marlon
Devonish will be running in the final race of the AAA Championships at
Birmingham’s Alexander stadium on Sunday.
And strong Olympic medal
prospect Katharine Merry will be competing in the women’s 400m in
one of the last disciplines.
This year’s contest has an
added bite to it as the annual competition is doubling up as the
Devonish, who runs for
Coventry Godiva Harriers, will be competing in the men’s 200m on
Sunday shortly before 6pm.
He faces a stern test to make
sure of his place as he has to finish in the top two to be sure of
To get on the plane to Sydney,
athletes have to have reached a certain standard in their discipline
The first two finishers at the
weekend will be guaranteed a place – if they have reached the
The third place in the team
will be open to the discretion of UK Athletics.
The selection panel will bear
Sunday’s performance in mind, but also an athlete’s experience,
whether they have reached the standard and any mitigating factors.
This allows top athletes to be
selected if they suffer an injury this weekend and cannot compete.
Devonish is one of four
runners to achieve the 200m standard of 20.70 secs this season, along
with Christian Malcolm, Julian Golding and Marcus Adam.
He suffered a drugs scare
earlier this year when he tested positive for nandrolone, but the
reading was a tiny fraction over the permitted level and the IAAF
decided not to take further action.
UK Athletics Technical
Director for Sprints, Hurdles and Relays Graham Knight, said Devonish
was also in contention for the 4x100m relay team following a strong
performance last year.
He said on the UK Athletics
"At the European Cup in
Paris in 1999, Marlon Devonish spent some time with me after the
running four were announced in an attempt to come to terms with the
news that he had not been selected. To his credit he accepted the
decision with courtesy and dignity.
“On the following day when
a tight hamstring forced Dwain Chambers to withdraw 20 minutes
before call-up, Marlon was able to step in because he had put aside
his personal disappointment and had prepared with the rest of the
squad as if there was never any doubt that he was going to run.
attitude enabled him to run an excellent third leg, which he duly
made his own for the rest of the summer.”
Katharine Merry, aged 25, who
comes from Dunchurch and has already had a string of successes at
junior level, is the strongest prospect for women’s medal on the
track in Sydney and will be running at her home stadium this weekend
as she is a member of Birchfield Harriers.
Wearing a distinctive body
suit in some competitions this season she has set personal best times
of 50.05 secs in the 400m and 22.76 secs in the 200m.
Commonwealth long jump
champion Jo Wise, who jumps for Coventry Godiva Harriers, is facing an
uphill battle to get the Olympic standard.
She set her personal best of
6.76m last year but this year has only managed 6.45m - 20cm
below the standard.
She is currently the AAA
champion, but this year will up against an in-form Denise Lewis. The
heptathlete is competing in four disciplines as preparation for the
Olympics and is the only woman to have reached the long jump standard.
Coventry walker Andi Drake
will be defending his title in the 10km walk on Saturday morning.
800m runner Andy Hart is among
a clutch of runners hoping to get the qualifying time, as is 5000m
candidate Glynn Tromans.
Among the hopefuls in the
women’s competitions are 100m runners Zoe Wilson, who was born in
Coventry but belongs to Birchfield Harriers, and Rugby and District AC
sprinter Ellena Ruddock, who will compete in both 100m and 200m.
Coventry Godiva newcomer
Victoria Shipman will also go in the 200m and Maxine Baker will try to
improve on last year’s 8th place in the 1500m.
Clare Raven runs in the 800m
against former champion Kelly Holmes on her latest comeback from
In the field events Rebecca
Roles from Rugby will be throwing in the discus, and Jo
Jennings-Steele will be defending her high jump title. She needs to
improve on her season’s best of 1.87m by 6cm to get to Sydney.
Norwich Union Olympic trials run from Friday until Sunday. Ticket
details from 0870 4444440 or from the UK Athletics shop website.