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Gardener makes GB indoors squad

13 February 2007

Jason Gardener has been named in Great Britain's team for next month's European Indoor Championships despite finishing only seventh in the trials.

The 31-year-old is the defending champion in the men's 60m event.

Gardener is joined by training partners Craig Pickering and Ryan Scott who finished first and second in Sheffield, with Mark Lewis-Francis missing out.

Mo Farah is selected in the 3,000m, while Jessica Ennis and Kelly Sotherton are picked in the pentathlon.

Gardener, who is said to have been suffering from a cold at the trials, is ranked number three in Europe this year behind joint leaders Pickering and France's Ronald Pognon.

He has won three gold medals at the European Indoors, winning in 2000, 2002 and 2005 as well as taking silver in Valencia in 1998.

UK Athletics performance director Dave Collins has tipped Gardener to hit form ahead of the championships.

"He's been highly successful at winning medals and has the right competitive credentials to do so again, despite his setback through ill-health," said Collins.

"Let's also remember he's got a couple of very fast times this year."

Collins also hinted he has set a target of six medals for Team GB saying: "I've looked at the last couple of championships and our figure has been in that region."

Amongst those expected to do well is Nicola Sanders will run in the 400m after posting a superb time of 50.60 seconds at the trials.

While Nathan Douglas and Phillips Idowu will go head-to-head for potential medals in the triple jump.

Scott and Pickering will both be making their senior international debuts for Great Britain after making significant improvements under coach Malcolm Arnold at the University of Bath.

"It's always good to have people you know around when you go away, although all three of us will have to focus on what we can achieve ourselves," said Pickering.

"All three of us could make the final."

"If I can get a good reaction time I think I'm capable of running slightly better than my personal best. As long as I perform well I'll be happy."

Pickering paid tribute to the part Arnold has played in elevating him to the senior Great Britain stage.

"He has great experience and he makes sure you're doing the right work," he said.

"He's been there before and has had people doing much better than we are, so he doesn't get carried away and keeps his eye on where improvements can be made."

The 25 athletes named on Tuesday will be added to over the next few weeks before the final selection meeting on 24 February.

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