European heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis competes in four events in a demanding weekend at the Aviva Trials at Birmingham, starting tonight and continuing until Sunday.
Ennis, aiming for heptathlon gold at London 2012, will compete in the 100m hurdles and high jump tomorrow followed by the long jump and 200m on Sunday.
Ennis hopes to capitalise on form which saw her break Denise Lewis’s British heptathlon record in Austria, scoring 6,906 points. She said: “I’ve got a gruelling couple of days lined up. I want to use the meet to give myself a real physical test over two days as I’ll be competing in two heats and four finals. Everything is focused on London 2012 for me and a packed Alexander Stadium will be the closest I’ll come to replicating that tough schedule and environment ahead of the Games.”
The 26-year-old will face some of Britain’s best athletes this weekend and Ennis is particularly excited about facing GB teammates Tiffany Porter and Shara Proctor in the 100m hurdles and long jump respectively.
“There’s a challenge for me in all four events but Tiffany and Shara stand out as world-class opposition. Tiffany has had a great start to the year and going up against her will spur me on. Shara Proctor is also a tough opponent.”
The Sheffielder has done well at the Aviva UK Trials in years gone by and she will defend a high jump national title she won in 2011. Previous Trials victories include the 100m hurdles (2007) as well as a hurdles and high jump double (2009.)
Ennis, who set a personal best in the 200m in Austria with a time of 22.88s, will also go head to head on Sunday with Commonwealth Games silver medallist Abi Oyepitan, and reigning British champion Anyika Onuora.
“The great thing about the Aviva Trials is that I’ll take on specialists in every event and they are fighting for Olympic spots. The competition will be tough. There will be no let-up. These are just the types of battles that I will find myself in in August.”
For Ennis, Olympic selection is not an issue, but it is for the rest. Sheffield 800 metre star Mukhtar Mohammed, European bronze medallist at U23 level, will be aiming for a place in the 800m where he ranks fourth in the UK this year. His best time is 1:45.90, just three tenths outside the Olympic A standard of 1:45.60.
The selectors will pick the first two in the trial as long as they have the A standard since April 1 this year. That will be the challenge for Hallamshire’s Hatti Archer who needs to run 9:43 in the 3000m steeplechase. She already has the A standard from last year but has not raced on the track this year and it remains to be seen whether she can come out and produce the goods.
Sheffield’s Lee Doran defends his javelin title and must raise his best to 82m to get A standard.