Commonwealth Games: Asher-Smith hails English strength as 75 athletes picked

• Team England names 75-strong athletics squad for 2018 event in Australia
• Adam Gemili and Katarina Johnson-Thompson among medal contenders

Greg Rutherford, the London 2012 Olympic long jump champion, and Britain’s sprint-record holder, Dina Asher-Smith, have been named in a 75-strong England athletics team for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia.

The athletics squad will form the largest chunk of Team England’s 650-strong party for the Gold Coast, which will consist of 400 athletes and 250 support staff across 18 sports – making it the largest ever team to represent England in an overseas sporting event.

Most of them will begin flying out to the training camp in Brisbane in mid-March to give them more than a fortnight to acclimatise before the Games start on 4 April. England will be attempting to defend their position ahead of Australia on top of the medal table.

A Team England spokesperson would not be drawn on the cost of the trip but admitted “it obviously is not cheap to send 400 athletes and 250 support staff around the world”. However, one insider said they believed the figure would run into the millions.

Asher-Smith, meanwhile, who will run in the 200m and the 4x100m, said she believes that England’s athletics squad, which also includes the 100m and 4x100m Commonwealth silver medallist Adam Gemili, the European Indoor gold medallist Katarina Johnson-Thompson, and most of the successful British relay names from the recent world championships in London, had “so many medal contenders it could sweep events”. Asher-Smith, who missed most of the 2017 season with a broken foot before a stunning performance earned her fourth place in the world championships 200m and a silver in the 4x100m, admitted she would likely skip the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham during March to focus instead on the Commonwealth Games.

“With the two being so close I don’t know if it’s feasible to do both,” she said. “For a long time I’ve wanted to do the Commonwealth Games as it’s something I’ve never done. It is one down from the Olympics and it’s the priority for 90%of the athletes. Having the Commonwealth Games so early in the season, it does really push you because sometimes when the event’s in August, you’ve got to have these mini-targets along the way. But with the Commonwealths so early, there’s no excuse not to do every single rep and every single step.”

The 21-year-old also stressed that having already won relay medals at the Olympics and world championships, she wants to use Brisbane 2018 as a launchpad for greater individual success. “I’ve got a an opportunity to finish really highly in respected competitions,” she said. “If I do well in Europeans and Commonwealths next year, I can use that to build on for world and Olympic success. It would be nice to do well and stop finishing fourth or fifth individually and hopefully push on to bigger things.”

Sarah Winckless, chef de mission for Commonwealth Games England, said she is confident that the strong selection of athletes – along with the facilities they will enjoy in Australia – means everything is set up for success. “We’re incredibly proud to be announcing such a strong athletics team,” she said. “We’re putting forward some of the best athletes in the world and we’re confident that we will be sending the most prepared English team to Australia next April.

“We look forward to the high level of competition the Commonwealth Games will provide and with our excellent team of staff focussing their efforts to ensure that when we get out there, Team England will have everything set up for a world-class performance environment.”

The England athletics team in full

Men

Adam Gemili (100m and relay), Adam Hague (Pole Vault), Andrew Osagie (800m), Andy Pozzi (110m Hurdles), Andy Vernon (10,000m), Ashley Bryant (Decathlon), Ben Williams (Triple Jump), Callum Wilkinson (20k Walk), Charlie Grice (1500m), Chris Baker (High Jump), Dan Bramble (Long Jump), Danny Talbot (200m and relay), Dave King (110m Hurdles), Dwayne Cowan (4x400 relay), Elliot Giles (800m), George Caddick (4x400 relay), Greg Rutherford (Long Jump), Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (4x100 relay), Jack Green (400m Hurdles), James Dasaolu (100m and relay), John Lane ( Decathlon), Kyle Langford (800m), Luke Cutts (Pole Vault), Martyn Rooney (4x400 relay), Matthew Hudson-Smith (400m and relay), Nathan Douglas (Triple Jump), Nathan Fox (Triple Jump), Nathaneel Mitchell-Blake (200m and relay), Nick Miller (Hammer), Rabah Yousif -(4x400 relay), Robbie Grabarz (High Jump), Taylor Campbell (Hammer), Tom Bosworth (20k Walk), Tom Gale (High Jump), Zharnel Hughes (200m and relay).

Women

Adelle Tracey (800m), Alyson Dixon (Marathon), Amelia Strickler (Shotput), Anyika Onuora (4x400 relay), Asha Philip (100m and relay), Ashleigh Nelson (4x100 relay), Bethan Partridge (High Jump), Bianca Williams (200m and relay), Cheriece Hylton (4x400 relay), Corinne Humphreys -(4x100 relay), Desiree Henry (100m and relay), Dina Asher-Smith (200m and relay), Emily Diamond (4x400 relay), Finette Agyapong (4x400 relay), Gemma Bridge (20k Walk), Holly Bradshaw (Pole Vault), Iona Lake (3,000m Steeplechase) , Jade Lally (Discus), Jazmin Sawyers (Long Jump), Jessica Judd (1500m), Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Heptathlon), Katie Snowden (1500m), Katie Stainton (Heptathlon), Laura Weightman (5,000m), Lorraine Ugen (Long Jump), Lucy Bryan (Pole Vault), Margaret Adeoye (4x400 relay), Meghan Beesley (400m Hurdles), Molly Caudery (Pole Vault), Morgan Lake (High Jump), Niamh Emerson (Heptathlon), Perri Shakes-Drayton (4x400 relay), Rachel Wallader (Shot put), Rosie Clarke (3,000m), Sarah McDonald (1500m), Shara Proctor (Long Jump), Shelayna Oskan-Clarke (800m), Sonia Samuels (Marathon), Sophie Hitchon (Hammer), Tiffany Porter (100m Hurdles).

Contributor

Sean Ingle

The GuardianTramp

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