By Chris Lotsbom
(12-Jul) -- With the Sainsbury's British Championships beginning today, a trio of notable names are absent from the meet's starting lists: Olympic gold medalists Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill, and Greg Rutherford. Less than twelve months after their glorious hour --when all three earned Olympic crowns in London-- the group will be missing from Birmingham's Alexander Stadium, where the United Kingdom's IAAF World Championships team will be selected.
"Frustrating times! But I've not given up yet! #partofbeinganathlete," tweeted Ennis-Hill on Thursday, suffering from an ankle injury.
"Off to find out the extent of the damage to my hamstring. Lets hope it's not too bad," said Rutherford in a tweet posted on July 8, two days after withdrawing from the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris.
While both Ennis-Hill and Rutherford are sidelined by injuries, the 30-year-old Farah seems to be in great shape. Last month the double Olympic gold medalist placed second at the Prefontaine Classic 5000m timing 13:05.88, a new season's best. Later in June, within the span of eight days he won 5000m contests at both the European Team Championships and Sainsbury's Grand Prix IAAF Diamond League meeting. At the Team Championships, he closed in 50.89 seconds for the final 400 meters.
"The finish was good. That's what I’ve been working on, we planned that," Farah told British Athletics after the win. "I felt alright, I'm back to normal training which is great. The aim is just to keep training, keep doing what I’m doing – Moscow is the big one."
Since Farah was the 2011 world champion at 5000m, he has earned a wildcard spot on the starting line at the 2013 IAAF World Championships, to be held next month in Moscow. He has also earned the 'A' qualifying standard in the 10,000m thanks to his 27:30.42 winning mark at the Olympics. Farah is the only British athlete with the 'A' standard in either event, thus nearly guaranteeing him the opportunity to attempt the long distance double once again.
Though Farah --the face of British distance running in recent years-- will be missing from this weekend's British Championships, the middle and long distance disciplines will still feature match-ups to look out for. Most intriguing is the women's 1500m, where 2011 IAAF World Championships silver medalist Hannah England takes on Lisa Dobriskey and Laura Weightman.
"The [World Championships] trials is a very exciting event and it means a lot to me. I'm really sort of relieved that I've got here in good shape and can have a go at it this year," said England, speaking to reporters via conference call on Wednesday. "Things are going really well at the minute... I'm definitely ready for this weekend and it's looking good, so hopefully I can get on that World Championships team."
The women's 800m will be missing reigning European champion Lynsey Sharp (ankle injury), but will feature 18-year-old standout Jessica Judd, who even caught the eye of England after her 1:59.85 performance on June 30 in Birmingham.
"She's awesome, she's got a really good head on her," said England. "She's doing really well right now... She's already achieving as a senior athlete now and that's really really impressive."
Asked if she'd like to see Judd in more 1500m contests, England said watching her in the 800m is just fine at the moment.
"I'm perfectly fine with her staying in the 800m for a while," she said with a laugh.
Alongside Judd in the 800m will be Marilyn Okoro, who broke 2:00 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris. In the men's 800m, Michael Rimmer is entered. Judd, Okoro, and Rimmer have all earned 800m 'A' standards.
Eilish McColgan is the only athlete in addition to those named above who currently have an IAAF World Championships 'A' standard; she is the favorite in the women's 3000m steeplechase.
Like on the women's side, the men's 1500m is another deep event. Numerous former or current NCAA athletes are set to compete, including Tulsa's 2012 NCAA Indoor mile champion Chris O'Hare and Boston University's Rich Peters. O'Hare redshirted his NCAA season in order to prepare himself for earning a birth at the IAAF World Championships. But first he'll have to run well enough in Birmingham to ensure a selection. If O'Hare wins the at the Trials he should gain selection as the Trials winner since he already hold the World Championships "B" standard.
Nick McCormick and Stephanie Twell look to be top entrants in the men's and women's 5000m. Andrew Lemoncello and Scott overall --Olympians in 2008 and 2012, respectively-- will take to the oval in the men's 10,000m.
According to British Athletics, 600 athletes will compete in the three-day contest.