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Pickering gets European Cup nod

9 June 2007
bbc.co.uk

Craig Pickering has been given the men's 100m slot in Great Britain's team for the European Cup on 23-24 June.

The 20-year-old was chosen ahead of Mark Lewis-Francis after his win in the Glasgow Grand Prix earlier this month.

Lewis-Francis tops the UK rankings with a time of 10.19secs, but Pickering soundly beat him in what was always considered the "EuroCup trial".

The selectors' other close call for the Munich event saw them go for Tim Benjamin over Andy Steele in the 400m.

UK Athletics performance director Dave Collins said at the weekend that the one-lap choice would be one of the tougher decisions, but it comes as little surprise that he and his colleagues have opted for Benjamin's experience.

Steele, 22, came into the reckoning for the Super League match after a strong start to the season. He also beat Benjamin in Glasgow.

Benjamin, who had a slow start to his season because of illness, then proved his fitness when winning in Turin last Friday clocking 45.80.

But the Welshman's performance was bettered less than 24 hours later when Steele produced a much faster time and lifetime best of 45.31 in Geneva.

Collins admitted: "Even this early in the season some good performances made for some very difficult selection decisions.

"However, we are confident we have selected the best team for what is always a challenging pair of fixtures."

Jason Gardener has pulled of the 4x100m team because of worries over his Achilles and has been replaced by Tim Abeyie of Woodford Green & Essex Ladies.

The women's side which will be aiming to bounce back to Super League status at the First League 'A' match in Vaasa, Finland, is less controversial, although much rides on Jo Pavey.

She has been chosen for her Commonwealth silver-medal winning distance of 5,000m, just a week before she will attempt to gain the qualifying standard over 10,000m for the World Championships.

It will be possibly be her last opportunity to achieve the qualifing time for Osaka in August, and it was expected she might be rested or chosen for the shorter 3,000m race to help prepare.



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