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European qualifying standards increased by UK Athletics

14 December 09 15:20 GMT

UK Athletics has announced tougher qualifying marks for the European Championships, with athletes having to match the World Championship targets.

The standards for next summer's event in Barcelona will match those for this year's World Championships in Berlin, where Britain finished with six medals.

UKA head coach Charles van Commenee said the targets were designed to prepare athletes for the 2012 Olympics.

"No-one ever jumped higher by lowering the bar," said van Commenee.

"At this point in the Olympic cycle we are looking to prepare and shape contenders for London and therefore we want to use every major championship as a practice for that, applying the same principles and expecting the same level of performance.

"These higher standards mean those selected will be expected to make finals not simply to compete. We are looking for contenders, not pretenders."

Dutchman van Commenee's stance comes after he warned the team against complacency in the immediate aftermath of Team GB's better-than-expected performance at the Worlds.

Britain finished eighth in the medal table - the team's best showing in the competition since Seville 1999 - thanks to golds from heptathlete Jessica Ennis and triple-jumper Phillips Idowu.

But van Commenee said at the time: "It's important we build on this success. There's not much time to go until London."

Meanwhile, the head coach has revealed that the Commonwealth Games, which take place in New Delhi in October, will act as a stage to give athletes on the fringes of the squad a chance to impress.

"This year's Commonwealth Games presents an opportunity to athletes just outside UKA's European Championships criteria which will ensure developing athletes are given high quality competition at an international level," he said.

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