By Owen Morgan
Jake Heyward will be among more than 50 young Welsh athletes travelling to Bedford this weekend – with many on the hunt for qualification to this summer’s under-20 and under-23 European Championships.
The England Athletics Under-20/Under-23 Championships and European Trials will be the last chance to claim selection for next month’s Euros in Sweden.
The European Athletics U23 Championships will be staged in Gavle, between July 11-14 and the European Athletics U20 Championships in Boras, from July 18 to 21.
So far, three Welsh athletes have achieved the qualifying standards. Now, they must finish in the top two at Bedford to guarantee selection when the Great Britain teams are named next week.
The three U20 athletes with the qualifying standards are Pembrokeshire’s James Tomlinson, who has thrown 60.24m in the discus, Cardiff’s Jeremiah Azu, who clocked 10.27 in 100m and 21.09 in 200m, and capital city club-mate Sarah Omoregie, who has thrown 15.45m in the shot put.
There are a number of other athletes, within touching distance of the qualifying marks, who will be looking to gain the necessary improvements and a top two place.
Former European Youth and Junior 1500m champion Heyward will be hoping to claim a team place on his first competitive outdoor track appearance of the year.
Heyward, who enjoyed an excellent cross country season over the winter, hasn’t competed since running the Carlsbad 5000 road race in California in April, having subsequently picked up an Achilles injury.
However, his personal best of 3:36.90 set last year, is comfortably inside the 3:41.00 he needs to clock for next month’s championships.
In the javelin, Birchfield Harrier and Welsh Champion Bethan Rees will need to get close to her personal best of 51.18 in order to chalk up the qualifying standard of 51m.
Swansea Harriers U-23 sprinter Joe Brier, who last year represented GB at the World Under-20 Championships, recently ran a PB of 46.85 at the British Athletics League, but will need another sizeable improvement to meet the qualifying standard of 46.30.
Amongst the under-20 athletes, Carmarthen Harrier Ben Thomas has already gone close to the 3000m steeplechase qualifying time of 9:05 this season, having set a new PB of 9:07.78 in Belgium last month.
Likewise, Menai’s Oli Barbaressi will need break his recently set personal best of 14:21.75 in order to gain the 5,000m qualifying mark of 14:20.00.
This weekend’s action can be watched live online through the BBC Sport website. The live stream will start from 12.50pm on Saturday.
The event timetable, entry lists and live results can be found on the England Athletics website.