SCOTLAND’S Olympic track stars Lynsey Sharp (Edinburgh AC) and Eilidh Child (Pitreavie) will both be in action for the first time in the famous American track meeting, the Penn State Relays, in Philadelphia tomorrow.
British Athletics has decided to target the meeting as part of the build-up towards the World Championships in Moscow in August and have selected strong teams from a group of elite athletes who have already been out in the USA on warm-weather training.
Child will join up with her GB gold medal-winning 4x400 metres relay teammates from the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg last month, Shana Cox, Perri Shakes-Drayton and Christine Ohuruogu, in a powerful quartet who will face tough opposition from Jamaica, Russia and USA.
Child has not competed since her successful indoor season when she reduced her best 400m to 51.45 seconds but Shakes-Drayton clocked an impressive new best of 23.27 for the 200m in Gainesville, Florida, last weekend.
Sharp will contest a new event at the meeting, a women’s 4x800m relay and, joining her in a bid to beat the World record of 8:19.9 set back in 1992, will be two of her bitter rivals from the London 2012 selection process, Marilyn Okoro and Jemma Simpson, and a newcomer on the international scene Tara Bird, whose mother, former British internationalist Gladys Taylor, was
a frequent visitor to Meadowbank.
Sharp has been suffering from a heavy cold but that did not prevent her clocking a very useful early season time of 2:02.63 for the 800m in the Mount SAC Relays in California last weekend in which Okoro also took part.
Sharp’s new coach Terrence Mahon, the American who is also British Athletics endurance coach, said: “The Penn Relays give us the chance to see where we are as we approach the outdoor season.
“I’ve no doubt the team assembled has every chance of winning the first medals for GB & NI at the event but, as every year the relays attract some strong opposition, we’ll have to be at our best.”
Freya frozen out of Moscow
Capital runner Freya Ross has suffered a bitter disappointment over the selection of the marathon team for the World Championships in Moscow in August.
British Athletics has named only two runners, Scotland’s Susan Partridge, who was the first Briton to finish in last Sunday’s Virgin London Marathon, just beating the qualifying standard of 2:31.00 with 2:30.46, and Sonia Samuels (Brighton), who clocked 2:30.56 in the Berlin Marathon last September.
Ross, the first Briton to finish in last year’s London Olympics, already had the qualifying standard for Moscow from last year’s London Marathon, where she ran 2:28.10 in her debut at the event and had spent nine weeks training at altitude in Boulder, Colorado this year in preparation for last Sunday’s race.
But she was forced to give it a miss due to a hip injury and British Athletics has been surprisingly unsympathetic in denying the 29-year-old Edinburgh AC runner a chance to prove her fitness later this summer.
Terrence Mahon is reported as saying: “From our conversations she has been suffering injury problems throughout the build-up and her performances were not leading us to see her as someone who would finish in the top 20.”
O’Hare starts in Stanford
Chris O’Hare (Edinburgh AC) opens his outdoor track season by running in the 1500 metres at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational meeting at Stanford tomorrow.
Up to 30 British and Irish athletes are expected to take part including two more Scots, Stuart Ross in the 800m, and Jo Moultrie, running in the women’s 1500m.