By Owen Morgan
More than 40 Welsh athletes travel to Birmingham this weekend in search of PBs, British titles and places on the plane to Doha for next month’s World Athletics Championships.
The Alexander Stadium hosts a star-studded line up for the Muller British Athletics Championships and world trials across Saturday and Sunday.
Welsh competitors who hit the World Championships standards and finish in the top two in each event will guarantee a Great Britain team place alongside countryman Dewi Griffiths, who has already been selected to contest the marathon in Doha.
Former world champion Dai Greene will be hoping to put a difficult season behind him in the 400m hurdles.
The Swansea Harrier has only run two competitive races this season, both coming earlier this month, firstly in Loughborough, where he won in a time of 51.22, and then Gothenburg where he was second in 50.05.
The Gothenburg time is one hundredth of a second faster than the time he registered to win the British title in Birmingham last year. It ranks him fourth in the UK this year, but leaves him short of the World Championship qualifying standard of 49.30.
In the women’s 5000m race-walk, Cardiff’s Bethan Davies will be looking to retain the title she has won for the past two years.
Davies, who competed at the World Athletics Championships in London two years ago, finished second in the 20K World Championship trial event earlier this year, but has yet to gain the qualifying time for Doha over that distance.
One Welsh athlete who has achieved the world standard this season is distance runner Melissa Courtney, due to run in a high quality 5,000m field with a strong Welsh flavour.
The Poole AC athlete clocked a PB of 14:53.82 in Stockholm in May, making her one of seven British athletes to have achieved the standard of 15:35.00 this season, including Eilish McCoglan and Laura Weightman.
Courtney is joined in the 5,000m start list on Sunday by fellow Welsh athletes Charlotte Arter, Elinor Kirk, Jenny Nesbitt and Bronwen Owen.
Another event with a good Welsh contingent will be the men’s 100m where Wales’ fastest man Sam Gordon will be hoping to mix it with the likes of Zharnel Hughes and Adam Gemili.
The Cardiff athlete, who ran a wind-assisted 10.08 to win the Welsh title earlier this season, will be joined in the heats by fellow Cardiff team mates Josh Brown and Makoye Kampengele, along with Neath Harrier Owain Lloyd Hughes, who has been in spectacular form this season.
In the women’s 100m, Melissa Roberts and Issie Tustin, will be going up against the likes of British sprint sensation Dina Asher Smith.
The men’s one-lap sprint will feature Great Britain internationals Owen Smith of Cardiff Athletics, who is ranked fifth in Britain, and Swansea Harrier Joe Brier, who has lowered his PB this year to 46.66.
Few Welsh athletes will go into the trials in better form than hammer thrower Osian Jones.
The Liverpool Harrier has broken his own Welsh record three times this season, extending the distance from 71.62 to 73.85 in less than a month.
Jones is currently ranked third in Britain, but is currently short of the World qualifying standard of 76m.
Joining Jones in the hammer competition is Welsh Champion Jac Palmer, of Cardiff Athletics, who has also set a new PB of 70.01 this season, putting him in the British top 10.
Another thrower travelling to Birmingham in record breaking form this season is James Tomlinson.
The 19-year-old Pembrokeshire discus thrower, who has represented Great Britain a number of times this season, last week broke the Welsh Under-20 discus record with an effort of 61.64m.
Welsh throwing in general has been in rude health this season. Promising young javelin throwers Bethan Rees and Tom Hewson, will be looking to challenge in their respective competitions, while Adele Nicoll is currently fourth in the British shot put rankings after posting a PB of 16.34m last month.
Another hugely talented Welsh youngster faces one of the best fields in the championship over 1500m.
The former European Youth and Junior 1500m champion Jake Heyward has endured a difficult season due to injuries, but recent performances put him 12th in the rankings. A renowned championship runner at junior level, Heyward could challenge for medals if he gets near to top form.
In the women’s long jump, Sarah Abrams should be brimming with confidence after pipping Jazmin Sawyers at the Manchester International, but she will face a top class field featuring Sawyers, Abigail Irozuru, Shara Proctor and Lorraine Ugen.
Also lining up in the long jump will be Paralympian Olivia Breen, who broke the Commonwealth record at the Welsh Athletics Championships last month.
Other Welsh Paralympians taking part in the championships will be multiple world record breakers Aled Davies and Hollie Arnold, who will be competing in the shot put and javelin respectively.
The men’s 3000m steeplechase will feature Swansea Harrier Jonathan Hopkins and Cardiff’s Ieuan Thomas, who represented Great Britain at the 2017 World Athletics Championship in London.
Full start lists and timetable can be found on the British Athletics website. If you’re not going to Birmingham you can keep up with all the action on the BBC Red Button on Saturday 24th August between 14:45 and 17:00, while on Sunday, all the action will be on BBC2 between
13:00 and 17:00.