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Young GB stars look for European under-23 springboard

Just when you thought there was enough sporting buzz this summer, the European Athletics Under-23 Championships are underway in Bydgoszcz.

I hope I'm not the only one who spent ages trying to figure out how to pronounce that. Bid-gos-itch? Byed-gosh-esh? I'm reliably informed by a commentary colleague out there that it's bid-gosh, but if this wasn't a written article, I might've panicked and just said Poland.

Now that's resolved, let's take a look at some of the contenders.

There's no question it's a strong British team. It's especially great to see talented athletes who did well at the 2015 European Junior Championships (in the also hard to say and spell Eskilstuna) return here like Ojie Edoburun (Ryan Freckleton), Laviai Nielsen (Frank Adams), Imani Lansiquot (Jonas Dodoo) and Jacob Fincham-Dukes (Zivile Pukstiene).

Edoburun and Nielsen in particular have had some ups and downs to deal with since taking their respective 100m and 400m titles in Sweden two years ago, but both seem full of confidence and desire to learn from every experience they come across and that should pay dividends for them.

Talking of confidence, one athlete who always seems to have it in abundance is 400m man Cameron Chalmers (James Hillier), who usually finds himself racing against the clock on runjumpthrow.com. Be it the last couple of BUCS Championships, or the England under-23s, its been brilliant watching the tall figure of the Guernsey record holder climb through the gears on the back straight, picking off targets in front of him one by one.

He and coach James Hillier seem a fantastic partnership right now, and making it to the 4x400 relay team for London 2017 is everything they deserve.

Over the 400m hurdles, doing well here could be of great benefit to Jacob Paul (Marina Armstrong) and Jess Turner (Nick Dakin), who appear to be getting closer and closer to Britain's best in this event, cruising under 50 and 57 seconds respectively for the first time this year. Jacob's time of 49.49 at the Anniversary Games leaves him 0.14 seconds off the World Championships qualifying standard.

With the young talent this country has over the sprint hurdles, including Alicia Barrett (Toni Minichello), David King (James Hillier) and David Omoregie (Benke Blomkvist), let's not forget about Yasmin Miller (Robert Smith) and Khai Riley-La Borde (Ray Gibbins/Richard Turner). This event could be a huge opportunity for them to write their own headlines.

Across track and field, there are a real mix of athletes who've dominated national competitions at this level and looked very much at home wearing international vests. Jacob Fincham-Dukes set a new lifetime best to take his European Junior silver medal in 2015, when all three medallists jumped further than they had done before. A pair of great competitions in Texas have seen him get right up to the magic eight metre line this year, with a new windy best of 8.02m, or 7.96m otherwise.

Elsewhere, hammer thrower Taylor Campbell (John Pearson) will be looking to make a name for himself, though he's already 15th on the British all-time list with 73.40m in 2017. He also came second behind the reigning European under-23 champion Nick Miller (Tore Gustafsson) at the world trials.

Few would've picked Daniel Rowden (Richard Thurston) to beat Andrew Osagie (Mark Rowland) over 800m in Birmingham, but a performance like that was coming given his consistent showings at junior level.

Finally, three quarters of the winning women's 4x400m team from the 2015 European Juniors could be reunited on the track, but they will have to go some to match the 3:30.07 age group national record set by their title-grabbing under-23 counterparts in Tallinn including Zoey Clark and Seren Bundy-Davies.

The Nielsen twins and Cheriece Hylton (Ryan Freckleton) are joined in the squad by national under-23 champion Kelsey Stewart (Ken Hogg) who is having a wonderful season, that also included finishing first in the relay at the Loughborough International on her first senior international call-up.

Click here to see the British Athletics team in full, a live stream is available on the European Athletics website.

 

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