Birchfield Harriers will take an under-strength team to Manchester for the second fixture of the British Athletics League Premiership tomorrow, but knowing that their opposition are likely to be in the same boat.
With the Aviva World Trials and UK Championships taking place at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium the following week, athletes and teams alike will have their eye on the more senior event. That, in theory, should see several big-names pull out of tomorrow’s competition.
Birchfield already look likely to be without five potential event winners, meaning that the Stags will struggle to repeat their second-placed finish behind Newham and Essex at last month’s opening fixture in Sheffield.
Long jumper Jonathan Moore, who won his event in Sheffield, has opted to enter the Cork City Sports competition instead while star sprinter Mark Lewis-Francis is also heading to a Grand Prix status meeting, the Madrid International.
High jumper Tom Parsons has pulled out to work on his technique ahead of the world trials while injuries have prevented 110 metres hurdler Chris Baille (hamstring) and 1,500m runner Ian Williamson (calf) from travelling.
Birchfield’s team manager Dave Lawrence said: “With it being the week before the trials a lot of the big people who are aspiring for the World Championships won’t be there.
“I don’t think that it is the right thing to do. There’s a debate to be had about them entering lesser competitions because there’s less pressure and they can be a bit more relaxed.
“We’re already looking to be without five winners and if we had them then we would be going to Manchester looking to win. I’m sure the other guys will come in and do well but it will be difficult for them to win it.”
Birchfield’s women face a difficult trip to Grangemouth for the second UK Women’s Athletic League Division One fixture. Olympic bronze medal winner Kelly Sotherton and fellow heptathlete Louise Hazel are likely to be absent to instead head to Bath for the Midlands League meeting in preparation for the world trials.