By Owen Morgan
Bethan Davies, Melissa Courtney, Sam Gordon and Jake Heyward will be among the athletes leading a Welsh charge at the SPAR British Indoor Championships in Birmingham this weekend.
As well as British title glory, there will also be places on the Great Britain team for next month’s European Indoor Championships in Glasgow up for grabs during the two-day event.
Cardiff AAC’s Davies will be favourite to retain her British indoor title in the women’s 5,000m walk.
The British record holder over the distance will be challenged by fellow Welsh Commonwealth Games representative and former British champion Heather Lewis, of Pembrokeshire. Tonbridge athlete Guy Thomas goes in the men’s race.
The women’s 3,000m promises to be one of the highlights of the weekend with Courtney potentially taking on European indoor bronze medallist Eilish McColgan and double world indoor medallist Laura Muir, who are named in the start list.
Courtney, of Poole AC, will go into the race in fine form having broken the Welsh 3000m indoor record and set a world lead in Germany earlier this month.
The men’s 3000m features former European youth and junior champion Heyward, of Cardiff AAC, who warmed up for the championship by running 8:02.41 at the Folksam Grand Prix in Sweden earlier this week.
Heyward will face equally stiff competition with the likes of European indoor bronze medallist Chris O’Hare and British lead Andrew Butchart amongst a strong named field.
Wales’ fastest man Gordon will be looking to put the disappointment of disqualification at the Welsh Indoor Championships behind him when he lines up in the men’s 60m.
The Cardiff AAC man will be up against another capital city-based athlete aiming to make amends for disqualification in the Welsh champs – Joshua Azu, who is the top ranked under-20 in Britain so far this year.
The trio of Cardiff athletes due to toe the line in the 60m heats is completed by Joshua Brown. The Welshmen will face formidable competition in the shape of World Championship relay gold medallist Nethaneel Mitchell Blake and former world and European indoor champion, Richard Kilty.
There’s also a trio of Welsh sprinters in the women’s 60m, headed by newly crowned Welsh Indoor Champion Shannon Malone.
The Deeside AAC athlete will be joined by Welsh Commonwealth Games sprint duo Hannah Brier, of Swansea Harriers and Birchfield Harrier Mica Moore.
Once again, the field will be stacked with talent, featuring the likes of 60m world leader Asha Philip and European 4x100m champion Bianca Williams.
In the field events, Wales is well represented in the men’s and women’s shot put competitions, with Welsh Indoor Champions Adelle Nicholl and Patrick Swan to the fore.
Also due to compete are multiple World and Paralympic Champion Aled Davies, World Para Athletics European Champion Sabrina Fortune, Newport AC’s Daniel Cork and Cardiff multi-eventer Sarah Omoregie.
Back on the track, there will be a quartet of Welsh sprinters in the men’s 200m – Welsh Indoor Champion Ben Paris, Lemarl Freckleton, both of Swansea Harriers, Cardiff’s Kristian Jones and Tom Williams, of Barry and Vale.
Meanwhile, flying the flag in the women’s 200m will be Wrexham’s Amy Odunaiya, and Welsh indoor champion Melissa Roberts, of Birchfield Harriers.
World Junior Championships relay bronze medallist Joe Brier, of Swansea Harriers, will be joined by Cardiff AAC’s Owen Smith in the men’s 400m, while multi-eventer Harry Hillman goes in the men’s 60m hurdles after taking the Welsh title two weeks ago.
The women’s 800m has been tipped as being one of the highlights of the championships with Lynsey Sharp and World and European medallist Shelayna Oskan-Clarke amongst those expected to take part. Challenging them will be Bracknell AC’s Rachel McClay and Laura Maddox, of Swansea Harriers.
Brighton Phoenix athlete Beth Kidger and Cardiff AC’s Kate Seary line up in the women’s 1500m against the likes of Hannah England, while Cardiff AAC’s Rowan Axe competes in the men’s race.
Start lists and time tables for the championships taking place on Saturday and Sunday can be found on the British Athletics website.
Live action will be broadcast on the BBC Sport app, on Connected TV and on the BBC Sport website, as well as on catch up via the BBC iPlayer.