The European Indoor Championships get underway in Gothenburg, Sweden, tomorrow with a -strong team representing GB & NI.
Holly Bleasdale (coach: Dan Pfaff, Scott Simpson) will go into the pole vault with a European leading mark of 4.77m set at the British Athletics European Trials and UK Championships in Sheffield earlier in February. The 21 year old, who finished sixth a last summer's Olympic Games, is in confident mood ahead of her assault on European Indoor glory.
"I've never had to handle the pressure of being one of the favourites before in a major championship, so I'm really excited to go out there in front of the crowd and do well for Great Britain. I'm coming into shape just at the right time, so hopefully everything will work out this weekend."
Perri Shakes-Drayton (Chris Zah) and Eilidh Child (Malcolm Arnold) are ranked second and third in Europe for the individual 400m and will head to Sweden in good form off the back of the British Athletics Grand Prix where Shakes-Drayton set an indoor personal best and Child ran a new Scottish record.
"I'm going to go out there and do the best I can do, there's a lot of girls who have ran a lot more races than me, but I'm in good form, so hopefully I'll have a good weekend", said Shakes-Drayton.
"I would love a medal, there could be girls that come out of the woodwork - I would love a gold, but I've got to do the business first," added the World Indoor Championships 4x400m gold medallist.
The women's 4x400m relay team similarly won silver in Paris and the squad of Margaret Adeoye (Linford Christie), Meghan Beesley (Nick Dakin), Child, Shana Cox, Christine Ohuruogu (both Lloyd Cowan) and Shakes-Drayton are well placed to contest the medal positions in Gothenburg.
Jenny Meadows (Trevor Painter) will defend her 800m title after she made a return to competitive action with a second place finish at the British Athletics Grand Prix in her first outing since September 2011. The 31 year old, who captains the GB & NI team, is looking forward to representing her country once again.
"If anyone would have told me that I would be captaining my country at the European Indoors, I would have thought they were crazy - it's the sort of thing you can only dream of.
"No one is expecting anything of me at these championships, so I'm a little bit under the radar, but you actually put yourself under a little bit of pressure to perform well as well. Whatever the result this weekend, I can't really lose, but I want a good result for myself and Great Britain. Two years ago I had my eyes focused on the gold medal, but it would be fantastic just to get on the podium this time around."
Head Coach Peter Eriksson is expecting a strong team performance in Gothenburg as he looks ahead to the IAAF World Championships in Moscow in August.
"My hopes are that we can do the best we can and I think with the young team we have that we will see a lot of good performances. I'm very positive about it, but we don't set any medal predictions, so the goal is to do our best.
"We've had a good start to the season and hopefully we'll see even better results. If we do well in Gothenburg, it's a good stepping stone looking ahead to Moscow."
photos Janos Schmidt
photos Janos Schmidt