Black Confident of Strong Performances in Sopot

British Athletics’ Performance Director Neil Black was today joined by Great Britain & Northern Ireland captain EIlidh Child (coach: Malcolm Arnold), Asha Philip (Christine Bowmaker) and Andrew Pozzi (Arnold) ahead of the IAAF World Indoor Championships, which get underway on 7-9 March.

Black is confident that the 34-strong GB & NI team have the attributes required to produce the goods in Sopot this weekend, with a strong blend of youth and experience making up the team.

“We‘re hoping for great performances,” said Black. “I’m looking for athletes and coaches to work together to prepare for competition and apply themselves for the various challenges that come along with a major championships. I’m hoping for a group of people to make finals and when you’ve got that, you’re hoping, expecting and believing that some of those people will go onto get on the rostrum.

“Probably the comment I’ve heard the most over the last few weeks is how brilliant the young athletes have been performing in a number of different events, but particularly in the sprint groups. There are a number of those people there and Asha Philip is just one of them so it’s an opportunity for the spotlight to be on the upcoming athletes and also apply themselves to world standard competition and I’m looking for the personal bests and performances here this weekend.”

Child, who won gold and silver at last year’s European Indoor Championships, is looking for another medal when she lines up in the 4x400m, but believes one of her key duties is to make her fellow teammates feel comfortable when she delivers her captain’s speech this evening.

“It will be quite a light hearted speech and I just want to make sure everybody feels relaxed and focused at the same time. I’ve been in a couple of speeches where I’ve come out feeling really nervous, so because it’s a young team, I’m going to try and keep that light heartedness but focused on the job at hand and everybody is here to prove themselves so hopefully we can do that as well.

“I really want to come away with a medal. We’ve got a really good squad and we’re the defending champions. It’s not going to be easy at all and the Americans and Russians have got really good teams. The crucial thing about indoors is the tactics. It’s quite argy bargy and if we can get amongst it, we can come away with something to take home.” 

After winning her second successive 60m British title at the Sainsbury’s British Championships last month, Philip is determined to continue the rich vein of form she’s shown in 2014, with one eye on Jeanette Kwakye’s 7.08 British record and a place in Sunday’s final. 

“The aim is to definitely get into the final because I missed out two years ago and I’m determined to make it this time around. It’s one of my main aims to get a faster time, and I know if I’m in that final hopefully I’ll get the British record.”

“I think it’s a good thing that I have the opportunity to compete against the best, because it’s all about going up against the big girls in international competitions and getting thrown into the deep end. The more I race against them, the more my confidence will build and it will feel natural to me.”

Pozzi, who was ruled out of the 2013 campaign through injury, made a blistering return to action at the Sainsbury’s British Championships where he clocked 7.64 to share the British title with GB & NI teammate William Sharman (Jerzy Maciukiewicz), who will join him on the 60m hurdles startline this weekend.  

“I just want to build on the indoor season I’ve already had. I’m coming into this running slightly quicker than I was two years ago and I was lucky enough to finish fourth. I’d like to build on that and maybe look at the medal positions,” said Pozzi, who tops the UK rankings this year after running 7.57 at the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix in February.

“The only reason why I went to Sheffield (for the Sainsbury’s British Championships) was mainly because I was injury free, so it was nice to compete. I didn’t have too many expectations about coming here to Sopot because I hadn’t done the work but I think we made the best of a bad situation with my injury. We got a lot of training done, albeit slightly adapted and I’ve got here in a lot better shape than I expected.

“William finished highly in the world final last year and is a great competitor, so to get myself back up to that level is really encouraging for the indoor season as well as the outdoor season. It’s those kinds of rivalries which lift the level of national and international sport and hurdling.”

The IAAF World Indoors on 7-9 March will be televised live on the BBC at the following times: 
Friday 7 March

09:00 - 12:00 & 19:00 - 20:30 BBC Two
12:00 - 13:00 & 17:00 - 19:00 Red Button
Saturday 8 March
09:00 - 11:30 & 17:10 - 20:30 BBC Two
10:30 - 13:00 BBC Red Button
Sunday 9 March
14:00 - 18:00 BBC Two