Wakefield athletes set to battle for London Olympics selection

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THE Olympic Games are just one top performance away for six Merrie City athletes who’ll travel to Birmingham for the Aviva UK Trials this weekend.

Olympic medal hopefuls such as Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Phillips Idowu will join over 750 of the UK’s top athletes to try and win selection for this summer’s Games.

And six athletes with links to the Merrie City will be among those descending on the Alexander Stadium.

Outwood’s Martyn Bernard, who competed for Great Britain at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and won bronze at the European Athletics Championships in Barcelona in 2010, will be looking to qualify in the men’s high jump on Sunday.

On Saturday, European Team Championships 1500m winner Charlene Thomas, of Wakefield Harriers, will aim to be quick out of the blocks in her bid to secure Olympic qualification.

Thomas will be joined on the track by two other Harriers on Saturday.

Jack Hallas is scheduled to compete in the men’s 800m event, while Zara Hohn will be involved in the women’s 100m hurdles.

In the field, former Wakefield Girls’ High School student Hannah Evenden will compete in both the women’s hammer and shot putt event, while Cleckheaton’s Sarah Holt will also be competing in the hammer.

All six Wakefield athletes will need to finish in the top-two spots in their respective events, as well as achieve the given Olympic qualifying standard, to take their place in the Olympic squad this summer.

Britain’s best medal hopes, including Ennis, Farah and Idowu, know they will be selected this summer regardless of how they perform in the Midlands this weekend.

But for the rest, including Wakefield’s potential Olympians, it’ll be the most competitive trials they will have faced.

Two Wakefield athletes have also been named as part of the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland squad for the forthcoming European Athletics Championships in Helsinki, Finland.

Wakefield Harriers Martyn Bernard (high jump) and Charlene Thomas (1500m) have been included in the initial 109-strong squad.

That number will be cut after this weekend’s UK Trials, with track athletes who’ve qualified for Team GB at the Olympic being exempt from competing in Helsinki to help them prepare for London.

However, field athletes who are successful in winning a place at the Olympics will be permitted to compete in Finland if the additional competition will benefit their Olympic preparations.

See this week’s Wakefield Express for all the latest sports news from around the district.