Dina Asher-Smith winning the 200m at the 2013 European Athletics Junior Championships (© Getty Images)
Four members of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland heading for the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships were presented to the media on Sunday (13) and the potential medal prospects at Oregon 2014 took the opportunity to expand on their hopes and ambitions in Eugene.
The 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships will be held in Eugene, USA, from 22-27 July.
Dina Asher-Smith is the British junior 100m record holder and European junior 200m champion. Asher-Smith currently tops the 2014 UK senior lists with her recent 11.14 performance in the German city of Mannheim, where she also ran a slightly wind-assisted 11.03.
“Success in Oregon would be to go in there and win, as any athlete goes in there to win. But being more pragmatic about it, it would be to go in there, execute my races and be technically good in a high-pressure situation,” said Asher-Smith.
“If I can go in there and perform to the best of my ability, whether that brings me gold, silver, bronze or not even a medal, I will be happy as it’s the best I could have done. I’ve got to just focus on myself, as when I start thinking about other people around me, that’s when I start not running as fast as I can. In my head, it’s just a straight line gun to tape, and I’ve just got to go as fast as I can. You can’t not be aware of another person’s presence in your race, but I’m just really going to try and focus on myself.”
On the prospect of breaking British records, Asher-Smith added: “I just want to go into the World Juniors and set a PB. If I do that, fingers crossed that’ll be enough. I just want to focus on running faster than I’ve ever run before and hopefully we’ll see some good results.
"The relay should be great as well. Hopefully we’ll go faster than we did last year (when the team broke the British junior record at the European Junior Championships). I’m really excited about the relay; it’s one of my favourite events as when you run well as a relay team it’s not just your personal happiness but it’s for your team mates as well.”
David Omoregie is the British junior 110m hurdles record-holder and briefly held the European junior record earlier this summer. currently ranked second on the 2014 world junior lists over the junior height of the 99cm/100cm barriers.
“Last year I wasn’t focusing on hurdles as such, as I was doing decathlons and so doing everything. However I was getting quite quick over the hurdles and qualified for the European Junior Championships, which was really cool. When I got out to Rieti I ran two PBs and I surprised myself a lot. So after that my coach and I thought the sensible thing was to just focus on the hurdles, so this winter I gave up the multi-events and just focused on the hurdles and came out in January running some pretty fast times. Outdoors as well I’ve just kept surprising myself, so it’s been great,” said Omoregie.
“I couldn’t train on the Thursday before Bedford (where he broke the British junior record with 13.17) as my car broke down, so I was actually a bit nervous and just wanted to get through the trials and win. After the final, I was so happy and didn’t really know what to say. It was even into a slight headwind, so if we get a nice tailwind in Oregon I can maybe run a bit quicker.”
Being a sprint hurdler from Wales, there are naturally comparisons with Colin Jackson. Omoregie recalled meeting him back in February.
“I met Colin Jackson before the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham where he gave me a bit of advice. He encouraged me not to look into where I finish too much, and to just use the race to gain experience,” added Omoregie.
Harry Coppell won the boys’ pole vault at the 2013 IAAF World Youth Championships and he is currently equal second on the 2014 world junior lists after clearing 5.40m in Mannheim last weekend.
“In Mannheim we were out there for a long time. Including warm up, it was about five hours. It was a lot of time to be out there, especially in that heat which we’re not really used to but I think both Adam (Hague, his British teammate) and I dealt with it really well. It was a great competition to be part of, as everyone in the top five set PBs, so seeing everyone go higher than they’re used to was surprising, but it was great to see everyone doing so well. It really puts things into perspective for what people will be doing at the World Juniors,” said Coppell.
“I know most of the guys competing in Oregon from the World Youths last year, and I sort of expected that, but the guy who’s above me on the rankings (Axel Chapelle) is from France and I’ve never competed against him before. He’s jumped 5.52m but I’ve never seen him jump.
"As I said though, I just want to focus on my own performance and not worry about achieving medals. Obviously I’d like to, but I just want to make sure I go in there and jump the best I can.”
Shona Richards is currently second in the 2014 world junior 400m hurdles lists and is the second fastest British junior of all time, behind only Perri Shakes-Drayton.
“This is my second international championship and I learnt a lot for the last one (Richards finished fifth at the European Junior Championships last year). But this is a different ball park, as in terms of rankings, there’s a lot more pressure this year. I really enjoyed last year and like to think I performed quite well, so hopefully I can do the same in America.”
Comparisons have been drawn between Richards and Shakes-Drayton.
“I think we’re different types of runners. Hurdling comes very naturally, which works hugely in my favour. Perri is obviously very, very fast over the flat, so whereas I’m not as quick as she is, the hurdle rhythm works well for me. I actually do 15 strides to hurdles six, which is quite difficult for a lot of females to do, especially at my age.
"Other than that, I like to think I’m a competitive championships performer like she is," added Richards. "I’ve run 56.79 and Perri’s record is 56.48. In my last race in Mannheim I felt very comfortable running 56.81, so with the energy of the stadium and the fast track in Oregon, I like to think I can break it, but I’ll have to just take it as it comes."
British Athletics for the IAAF