They may share the same coach but Capital athletic stars Lynsey Sharp and Chris O’Hare are in contrasting positions as they approach the British Championships and World Trials at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham this weekend.
Commonwealth silver medallist Sharp is the fastest British athlete outdoors this season in the 800 metres with a time of 2:00.37 which is inside the qualifying standard of 2:00.50 demanded by the British selectors. Her main rival, Jenny Meadows, has a faster time indoors (1:59.21) but Sharp has been deliberately biding her time for the bigger competitions to come and, though the 24-year-old Napier University law graduate is undoubtedly favourite to win on Sunday, a place on the rostrum would suffice to clinch her place in the World Championships in Beijing, China, next month.
O’Hare on the other hand, who is coached, like Sharp, by American Terence Mahon, is only ranked sixth in the 1500m going into tomorrow’s heats and his best 2015 time of 3:38.96 was set indoors in Prague in March where he won a European bronze medal.
England’s Lee Emanuel leads with 3:35.66, also indoors, and is the only athlete to achieve the qualifying target of 3:36.20. He is folowed by O’Hare’s close English rival Charlie Grice (3:37.70), while the next three who follow him in the lists, Ross Murray, Tom Lancashire and Tom Farrell all clocked their times in the same race at Watford last Saturday.
So O’Hare, who has been plagued by injury “niggles” since March, must finish no worse than third and preferably with a fast time.
But the Peebles High FP is unfazed: “It’s the British Championships and the main thing is to try to finish in the top three. The qualifying period remains open after that and I’m confident I can make the selection standard as there will be other opportunities.
“I won the British title at the Alexander Stadium in 2013 and I’d love to do it again.”
O’Hare was one of six Scots to win titles in Birmingham that year and last year there were four, Eilidh Child (Pitreavie), who will be hot favourite to retain the 400m hurdles crown and clinch her Beijing place, Sharp, Dundee steeplechaser Eilish McColgan, who is injured, and Dalmeny high jumper Allan Smith, who was subsequently withdrawn from the Commonwealth Games and has not entered this weekend.
Laura Muir too had a disappointing Glasgow 2014 but has come back so well this season that she has qualifying times in both 800m and 1500m though she will opt for the latter.
I expect the Milnathort student to win and beat close English rival Laura Weightman in the process.
Jake Wightman (EAC) beat former training companion Guy Learmonth over 800m in Loughborough recently but is more likely to contest the 1500m, having set a season’s best of 3:40.34 in Watford, while the Learmonth (Lasswade AC) will be hoping to regain his 800m form after recent disappointments. He too needs a podium place and then a qualifying time below 1:46.00.
New Scottish hammer record-holder Mark Dry is another potential champion as is pole vaulter Jax Thoirs, while Paisley’s Lennie Waite is top-ranked in the steeplechase.
Maddie Murray (EAC) is hoping for a final place in the 1500m while clubmate Sarah Warnock needs to recover her indoor form for a chance of a long jump medal.
And Scotland’s top discus throwers Nick Percy and Kirsty Law should both make the podium or better.