British 100m record holder Dina Asher-Smith (coach: John Blackie) and European and World Indoor 60m champion Richard Kilty (Linford Christie) have both targeted big performances at the Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix on Sunday.
Asher-Smith will line up against USA’s four-time Olympic champion Allyson Felix over 200m at the Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix and is excited at the prospect of racing some of the athletes she’s looked up to over recent years.
“I can’t wait to run at the Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix because I just really love racing. I like the feeling of nerves and the tough competition. I’ve watched these ladies race for years – there is so much talent in this field. I’ve got such a great opportunity to race here which you don’t get very often so I need to grab it. Any female sprinter wants to be like Allyson Felix – she is an absolutely amazing athlete and young people do look up to her,” said Asher-Smith, who ran a lifetime best of 22.61 in the semi-finals of the European Championships last summer.
“I’ve been racing at the Alexander Stadium since I was 13 so I have many good memories. It is like a second track home for me. I’m really excited about performing in front of the home crowd on Sunday.”
Asher-Smith has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the last few months winning European Indoor 60m silver, before breaking the British record at the FBK Games in Hengelo last month. The 19 year old’s time of 11.02 saw British Athletics’ rising star move above Kathy Cook and Montell Douglas in the all-time standings, something which came of a bit of a shock.
The Blackheath and Bromley athlete said: “The time flashed up and suddenly my mood completely changed in a split second – I was so happy. I couldn’t believe it when 11.02 flashed up on the screen and the wind speed was legal. I was so happy at that moment – I just couldn’t stop jumping up and down.”
Kilty meanwhile has been in stellar form this year winning European Indoor 60m gold in Prague before recording a new personal best of 10.09 in Gavardo, Italy last month. The ‘Teesside Tornado’ will now head to the Alexander Stadium to face a 100m field, which includes no fewer than five athletes, who have dipped under the 10 second barrier in 2015. Jimmy Vicaut, Mike Rodgers and the evergreen Kim Collins will line up in the sprint alongside the British stars Adam Gemili (Steve Fudge) and Chijindu Ujah (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) and Kilty is expecting an epic tussle.
Kilty, who will become the 100th man in history to go sub-10 seconds if he does so on Sunday said: “I’m really looking forward to some world class performances, we’ve got numerous world and Olympic champions competing. My outdoor season has got off to a good start, I’ve ran a personal best of 10.09 so it’s looking pretty positive at the moment. I hope to go out there at the Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix and if conditions are good to run a fast time; another personal best would be nice. It’s a world-class line up and I want to beat as many people as I can and have fun in front of a home crowd.”
Following her exertions at the Hypo Meeting in Gotzis last weekend, Jessica Ennis-Hill (Toni Minichiello) has had to withdraw from Sunday’s Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix.
Ennis-Hill said: “Having competed in my first full heptathlon in three years, both Toni and I feel that my body held up well in Gotzis and we are delighted with how I did, but I feel competing seven days later is going to be too soon.
“I have missed a volume of training over the past few months, since having my baby, due to problems with my achilles and there is still a lot of work to do. So we have made the decision for me to take the usual week off post a heptathlon to recover and then to get back into solid training. Toni will take time to review Gotzis together with Paul Brice, my bio-mechanist, and identify the key areas for continuing my improvement.
“I am really sorry to miss the Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix as it is a great meet with a really supportive crowd, but I have to keep the long term goal in mind and that is to be in the best shape possible for the next 14 months into the Rio Olympics.”
Christine Ohuruogu (Lloyd Cowan) has also withdrawn from the Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix as a precaution due to a tight hip flexor.
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To buy tickets to the Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix visit britishathletics.org.uk. Sainsbury’s is proud to be a long-term supporter of British Athletics and a champion of inclusive sport for all, from grassroots to elite level.