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aviva indoor uk trials and championships

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Aviva Series so far Ennis

10 February 2011

World and European heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis (coach: Toni Minichiello) – who will compete in four individual events in this weekend’s Aviva Indoor UK Trials and Championships at the EIS in Sheffield (12/13 February) – could become the first athlete to win three national titles in this competition.

Ennis, who will compete in front of a sell out home crowd, leads the current UK rankings in the 60mH (7.97) and long jump (6.38m) courtesy of her performances in the Aviva International Match in January. She was almost untouchable in the high jump in 2010 and has already recorded a lifetime best performance in the shot putt indoors in 2011 (14.61m).

While the shot putt continues to provide a personal challenge for the 25-year-old who will compete against the top four in the country in Saturday’s final, including reigning Aviva UK outdoor champion Eden Francis (coach: Glenys Morton), she is favourite to take a trio of victories – two in dominating fashion – this weekend.

Ennis may be the spectators’ favourite, but the most anticipated race of the weekend, with potentially five athletes in contention for Aviva GB & NI team spots for next month’s European Indoor Championships in Paris (4-6 March), is undoubtedly the women’s 60m.

Bernice Wilson (coach: George Skafidas) tops the McCain Power of 10 rankings with a mark of 7.26, well inside the UKA Qualifying Standard of 7.30 for the European Indoor Championships following victory in last weekend’s Birmingham Games.

In matching her PB she pushed joint leaders Jeanette Kwakye (coach: Michael Afilaka) and Jodie Williams (coach: Mike McFarlane), both with best times of 7.28 in 2011, down into second.

Demonstrating the strength and depth in the event at present, in addition to the mix of youth and experience, 17-year-old Williams - who opened her season with victory and a PB in the London City Games - has clearly continued the rich vein of form she enjoyed throughout 2010, while 27-year-old Kwakye, after two years interrupted by injury, is gradually returning to the form which saw her take IAAF World Indoor Championships silver in 2008.

Currently just outside the required standard, Laura Turner (coach: Linford Christie) and Ashleigh Nelson (coach: Michael Afilaka), with times of 7.33 and 7.34 respectively, should also race into contention for the two automatic team positions.

Defending champion Dwain Chambers, following his withdrawal from last weekend’s Birmingham Games final, returns to action to target a fourth successive national title in the men’s 60m, while the men’s 60mH will see Commonwealth Games medallists Andy Turner (coach: Lloyd Cowan) and Lawrence Clarke (coach: Malcolm Arnold) go head to head for victory.

Both athletes have already recorded marks inside 7.74, the required UKA standard for the European Indoor Championships, in 2011, although defending champion Gianni Frankis (coach: Tony Jarrett) is only one-hundredth of a second off the Paris qualifying mark and will also be in the mix for the automatic selection positions.

On the infield, Holly Bleasdale (coach: Julien Raffalli) will continue her successful transition from World Junior Championships bronze medallist to world class senior in the women’s pole vault.

Already the revelation of the winter in British athletics, having increased her lifetime best from 4.35m outdoors in 2010 to 4.50m indoors this year, Bleasdale is going from strength to strength.

She opened her season with a solid 4.28m Manchester in early January, progressing in successive weeks to 4.32m, 4.40m – the Qualifying Standard for the European Indoors, 4.48m and most recently 4.50m with victory in the McCain Indoor City Challenge in Sheffield on 6 February.

Full event details including entry lists can be found through the following link.

The first two eligible athletes in the Aviva Indoor UK Trials and Championships will be automatically selected provided they hold a UKA Qualification Standard within the UKA Qualification Period. The full selection policy is available through the following link.

The team will be picked on Monday 21 February 2011.