Over 700 athletes will compete in Manchester this weekend, with the ultimate prize being a ticket to the Tokyo Olympic Games taking place in just a few weeks’ time. Of those confirmed, 35 reigning champions are set to defend their British titles at the three-day event starting from 14:30 today.
This fan guide will cover all you need to know for an action-packed weekend of athletics at home – including how to watch live, which events to look out for plus activities for you and all the family to enjoy.
Event preview: Müller British Athletics Championships 2021
Around 780 athletes have accepted their invitation to compete at the Müller British Athletics Championships at the Manchester Regional Arena this weekend with the ultimate prize being a ticket to the Tokyo Games. Of the entries, 35 reigning champions are set to defend their titles at the three-day event which begins on Friday 25th June and finishes Sunday 27th June.
The action will span more than 22 hours and will be broadcast live on the British Athletics website with commentary from Tim Hutchings and Hannah England. At the venue itself, there will be 1,500 spectators at the Manchester Regional Arena each day.
World 200m champion Dina Asher-Smith (coach: John Blackie, club: Blackheath & Bromley) is entered for the women’s 100m at a meeting that will see the first two athletes in each event secure selection for the Olympics as long as they have the qualifying standard.
Holly Bradshaw (Scott Simpson, Blackburn Harriers) is aiming for her seventh successive and in total her ninth outdoor British title in the women’s pole vault. Four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah (Gary Lough, Newham & Essex Beagles) chases the Olympic qualifying standard of 27:28.00 in an invitational 10,000m on the first day of the championships.
Bradshaw is one of a number of local stars hoping to shine in Manchester too. Others include UK pole vault record-holder Harry Coppell (Scott Simpson, Wigan & District) and triple jumper Naomi Ogbeta (Tom Cullen, Trafford).
Great anticipation surrounds the middle-distance races with a number of world-class athletes like Laura Muir (Andy Young, Dundee Hawkhill), Jemma Reekie (Andy Young, Kilbarchan) and Keely Hodgkinson (Trevor Painter, Leigh) in the women’s events and Jake Wightman (Geoff Wightman, Edinburgh AC), Josh Kerr (Danny Mackey, Edinburgh AC) and Elliot Giles (Jon Bigg, Birchfield) just some of the many contenders in the men’s races.
Multiple British outdoor record-holders will also be action. They include not only Asher-Smith, Bradshaw, Muir, Coppell and Farah, but also long jumper Shara Proctor (Rana Reider, Birchfield), discus thrower Lawrence Okoye (John Hillier, Croydon), sprint hurdler Tiffany Porter (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies), race walkers Tom Bosworth (Andi Drake, Tonbridge) and Callum Wilkinson (Rob Heffernan, Enfield & Haringey), plus UK sprint relay record-holders Asha Philip (Steve Fudge, Newham & Essex Beagles), Daryll Neita (Rana Reider, Cambridge Harriers), Desiree Henry (Mike McFarlane, Enfield & Haringey), Adam Gemili (Rana Reider, Blackheath & Bromley), Zharnel Hughes (Glen Mills, Shaftesbury), Richard Kilty (Mike Afilaka, Gateshead) and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Newham & Essex Beagles).
Potential Olympians aside, a total of 36 of Britain’s finest para-athletes are due to compete. These include Paralympic champions Hannah Cockroft (Jenni Banks, Leeds), Aled Davies (Ryan Spencer Jones, Cardiff), and Sophie Hahn (Leon Baptiste, Charnwood) – all of whom heard this week that they have been selected for this summer’s Tokyo Paralympics.
These national championships have a rich history. The forerunner to the event, the AAA Championships, dates back to the early 1880s and even during the pandemic-hit 2020 season the event was still able to go ahead in Manchester last September.
On that occasion, it was the first time the Manchester Regional Arena had staged the championships since 2007 and this weekend it will once again act as host as the class of 2021 battle for national titles and possible Olympic selection.
Katie Brazier, British Athletics Competition and Events Director, said: “This will be my first Championships since starting my role and, as final preparations are made, I am sure I’m not alone in expecting some exciting competition this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Several events have multiple athletes with the qualification standard already, so I’m anticipating some thrilling battles.
“Performances on the day will be critical to securing those top two automatics slots and nomination by the selectors. It’ll also be fantastic to see plenty of para-athletes competing, as they look forward to Tokyo too.
“With the pandemic, reaching and preparing for the Championships, will have been challenging for many athletes so we have been working very hard, within the additional restrictions, to ensure we can provide the best possible environment for them to perform at their best.
“Thank you to everyone who has been working so diligently behind the scenes, to make sure that it’s an enjoyable experience for everyone involved; athletes, coaches, technical officials, volunteers, media, event and venue staff and of course the fans who have been lucky enough to secure tickets. I wish we could have every seat filled but that’s just not possible unfortunately. The good news is that the whole three days will be streamed on the website.
For details on how to watch the action click here.