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Last Updated: Monday, 30 July 2007, 05:50 GMT 06:50 UK
Steve Cram column
Steve Cram
By Steve Cram
BBC Sport commentator

The UK Championships and Worlds Trials reflected where British athletics is right now. We won't send a big team to the Worlds and we won't have too many medal chances.

Outside of Kelly Sotherton and Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon, we don't have any athletes who are out-and-out genuine medal contenders.

Jessica Ennis
Ennis was head and shoulders above the field in Manchester

Events in Manchester highlighted what we are missing at opposite ends of the sport - genuine world-class stars and strength in depth.

UK Athletics chiefs have set a target of 14 finalists in Osaka and three medals, but that looks tough to me - eight or nine looks more realistic.

At the close of play in Manchester, I'd say 17 or 18 athletes looked to have booked their places on the plane while another six or seven were possibilities. After that, who knows?

Unfortunately this summer many of those who would have expected to do well at the Worlds are sidelined or just coming back from injury.

Phillips Idowu (triple jump) was a bit of a worry as he would normally be considered a medal chance at his best, but his back injury doesn't look like it has cleared up completely.

He didn't fill us with confidence.

The youngsters who performed well at the European Championships last summer; the likes of 800m runners Becky Lyne and Sam Ellis, Greg Rutherford (long jump) and Nathan Douglas (triple jump) are all struggling one year on.

Becky has not done enough to show she is worthy of selection and Jemma Simpson, Marilyn Okoro and Jenny Meadows are all very strong in the 800m.

Sam is off for knee surgery so is definitely out while Nathan has a serious hamstring problem.

That just leaves the question of how fit Greg is and how is his hamstring? He will now be in communication with UKA medics and the selectors.

I hope the selectors stick by their edict to give some of the younger athletes an opportunity

Tim Benjamin could also be included over 400m and, interestingly, Christine Ohuruogu will take part in a time-trial on Thursday to prove her form over 400m.

Ohuruogu returns from her ban for missing drugs tests on 5 August and the race this week will be the key to whether the selectors will consider her as part of the relay squad.

There is a good medal hope in the women's 4x400m, and she will add strength.

As for defending marathon champion Paula Radcliffe, it appears that the likelihood of her going to Osaka is pretty slim and we'll probably just have to look forward to seeing her back in action later this year.

I don't think we should read too much into Marlon Devonish's winning time of 10.31 seconds for the men's 100m as the wind has been swirling strongly in Manchester.

He was talking about not doing the 200m and last year he did fall between two stools at the Europeans when he did both the 100m and 200m.

Having said that, Marlon did win the sprint double in Manchester and at 31 he has found some consistent form.

The big difference for Marlon was winning the Olympic 100m relay medal in Athens. It gave him the stature and confidence he hadn't had before, and he has really built on that.

Marlon Devonish (right) beats Alex Nelson to the 200m title
Nelson, 19, could get a 200m place despite losing to Devonish

Marlon will be an automatic pick for the 100m along with Craig Pickering and it would be a fantastic bonus if one of them were to reach the final.

As for the third selection, Mark Lewis-Francis was third in Manchester but he has had many, many chances in the past and has not taken them.

Simeon Williamson who did not compete at the trials is a youngster with real potential for the future and I think he should be given the third spot.

But I hear he does not want to run as he is interested in next month's World Student Games instead.

It will be interesting to see if the selectors reserve a place for Asha Philip, who won 100m gold at the World Youth Championships earlier this month.

I would at least put her in the relay, and I'm not sure anyone else warrants a place in the women's individual event.

The men's 200m is another case in point where up-and-coming sprinters Alex Nelson or Luke Fagan, who followed Devonish home, staked their claims.

What I really hope is that when the selectors do sit down to make their final choices that they stick by their edict to give some of the younger athletes an opportunity.

Steve Cram was talking to Sarah Holt

SEE ALSO
Devonish wraps up sprint double
29 Jul 07 |  Athletics
Happy Devonish retains 100m title
28 Jul 07 |  Athletics
GB athletes start road to Osaka
27 Jul 07 |  Athletics
Philip storms to World Youth gold
12 Jul 07 |  Athletics
Ban 'almost destroyed' Ohuruogu
08 Jun 07 |  Athletics


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