Eilidh Child backs Kirsten McAslan for indoor relay gold

Kirsten McAslan won her GB vest by slashing her personal best to 52.28 seconds in the 400 metres
Kirsten McAslan won her GB vest by slashing her personal best to 52.28 seconds in the 400 metres
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Eilidh Child believes Kirsten McAslan and Britain’s 4x400 metres relay team will bring back gold from the European Indoor Championships in Prague this weekend despite the fact that she herself will not be there.

Child would have been a strong individual favourite for the flat 400m in the Czech capital as well as anchoring the relay, but she opted out of the indoor season to focus on the outdoor World Championships which take in Beijing, China, in August.

“On form they should win. They have the top-ranked first, fourth and fifth this indoor season,” said the European outdoor 400m hurdles champion who trains beside McAslan in Bath.

Child, rebuilding her strength after taking Commonwealth 400m hurdles silver at Glasgow 2014, and European gold in Zurich, is confident there will be lots more precious metal to be mined in Prague despite her absence.

McAslan comes from two generations of Capital athletes. Her father Ewan and mother Fiona (née Hargreaves) both competed for Scotland as did her grandfather Jim, and, after frustrating years of injury, she has made remarkable progress this winter under the tutelage of Trevor Painter, coach and husband of Prague 800m medal favourite Jenny Meadows.

Famed for an heroic anchor leg to take GB to European Junior gold in Estonia in 2011, McAslan slashed her personal best to 52.28 seconds in the recent Birmingham Grand Prix to clinch her GB team spot.

The 21-year-old Sale Harrier had already won the British Trial at Sheffield courtesy of a fall ahead of her which eliminated two rivals but one of those, Welsh star Seren Bundy-Davies, came back at Birmingham to win the 400m in an amazing 51.72 secs which clinched her GB place and leads the rankings.

East Lothian’s Jamie Bowie, meanwhile, has an excellent chance of a 4x400m men’s medal if chosen from the squad of five.

Elswhere, Chris O’Hare (Edinburgh AC) has presented something of a Jeykll and Hyde figure recently, but the 1500m specialist, who is based in the US, should be free of jet lag out and ready to challenge second-ranked fellow Brit Lee Emanuel (3:35.66) and German athlete Homiyu Tesfaye for podium spots.

Guy Learmonth (Lasswade) goes for a medal in the men’s 800m where two formidable Polish athletes, Adam Kszczot (1:45.77) and Marcin Lewandowski (1:45.78), are real threats. Learmonth will concentrate on one round at a time after clinching his GB vest with a qualifying time of 1:47.38 at Birmingham.

A Glasgow 2014 finalist at Hampden, Learmonth’s tated aim is to reach his first senior final for GB, but he must also be harbouring ambitions of sneaking a bronze.

Anything can happen in the high jump final, which is 12th-ranked Allan Smith’s target, along with a leap of 2.31m which would make him top Scot of all-time indoors.

A European Under-23 medallist outdoors, Smith seems to have the big-time temperament and 2.33m might suffice for bronze.

Milnathort’s Laura Muir, like O’Hare, has had a roller-coaster season but has the example of history to inspire her in the 3000m. Anyone who has forgotten should watch the video footage of Musselburgh’s Yvonne Murray winning the European and World Indoor 3k titles in 1985 and 1990 – golden days indeed.