Erikkson defends European Indoor selection after Radcliffe "totally ridiculous" tweet

Tuesday, 19 February 2013
By Mike Rowbottom

erikssonFebruary 19 - Peter Eriksson, Olympic head coach for British Athletics, has defended the decision not to include any male 1500 metres runners in the team for the forthcoming European Indoor Championships - a decision which Paula Radcliffe described today as "totally ridiculous".

He also denied that there was any persuasion needed before naming Jenny Meadows, who had a spectacular falling out with team officials over London 2012 selection, as captain.

Today's selection announcement ahead of the Championships in Gothenburg from March 1 until 3 prompted Radcliffe, the world marathon record holder, to tweet: "To not select any 1500m runners is totally ridiculous."

But the Swedish-born Eriksson, who is seeking to better  Britain's 2011 medal total of eight in what will be a home soil debut for him following his appointment as Charles Van Commenee's successor, insisted that the selection was in line with the stated policy.

"We set out the selection guidelines quite a long while ago," he said.

"There was nobody in the men's 1500m that was in the running for being in the top six, with the potential to reach the final, as far as the committee was concerned."

Erikkson added that Meadows, the 2009 world 800m bronze medallist and defending European Indoor champion, had not taken any persuading to accept her captain's role despite being  omitted from Britain's London 2012 team after failing to convince selectors that she had recovered fully from a long-term Achiles tendon injury.

jennymeadowsJenny Meadows, controversially left out of the London 2012 team, will defend her European Indoor 800m title as Britain's team captain

"There was no convincing needed," said Erikkson, who guided Britain's Paralympic athletes to a total of 29 medals at last year's London Games, including 11 golds, which lifted them to third in medals table.

"Jenny is a very positive character, and of course she's the defending champion in Gothenburg.

"She has shown by coming back into the team and running so well recently what you can do even after coming back from a long-term injury.

"She is a good role model for the younger team members."

Meadows, who made her competitive comeback last weekend at the British Athletics Birmingham Grand Prix will lead a 29-strong team, two years after winning silver in Paris.

She was promoted to gold medallist last July - on the same day she learned of her exclusion from the Olympic team - when the 2011 winner, Yevgenia Zinurova of Russia, was suspended for a doping violation.

The 31-year-old defending gold medallist said: "It's a great honour to be named captain of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team, and I'm really excited to be given the opportunity to follow Helen Clitheroe, who did such a brilliant job in Paris two years ago."

Asked if he felt the British team could improve upon their Paris total of eight medals, Eriksson was unequivocal: "Yes.

"We have a really strong team, with potential finalists in many events."

Eriksson highlighted the chances of the men's and women's 400m relay teams, pole vaulter Holly Bleasdale and 400m runner Perri Shakes-Drayton, adding that Asha Philip had the potential to step up to the medal podium in the 60m.  

Philip ran a lifetime best of 7.15sec in Sheffield earlier this month – the second fastest in Europe,

Bleasdale has enjoyed an impressive start to the 2013 season, clearing 4.75 metres in Moscow earlier this month, on her way to victory, where she defeated Olympic silver medallist Yarisley Silva and 2011 world champion Fabiana Murer.

Robbie Grabarz Birmingham February 16 2013Robbie Grabarz will be one of Britain's main hopes for a medal in Gothenburg

Olympic bronze medallist and European high jump champion Robbie Grabarz will be seeking to add an indoor version to his 2012 outdoor European title, while Shakes-Drayton and Eilidh Child, the second and third fastest in the Europe over 400m, will lead British hopes in the two-lap event alongside Olympic semi-finalist Shana Cox.

Shakes-Drayton, Child and Cox will also have a relay medal in their sights as they are joined by 2012 Olympic silver medallist Christine Ohuruogu, Margaret Adeoye  and Meghan Beesley, with the target of adding gold to the silver won by the 4x400m team two years ago.

Dwain Chambers , a 60m gold medallist at the 2009 European Indoors will also be looking to put himself in medal contention once again after winning silver last time around.

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