Eriksson won't set European Indoor medal targets

28 February 2013 / 20:46

Holly Bleasdale and Robbie Grabarz are confident they can cope with the pressure of expectation ahead of the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Gothenburg.

Bleasdale is hot favourite for the women's pole vault having set a European leading mark of 4.77m at the recent UK Championships in Sheffield while Olympic high jump bronze medallist Grabarz has continued his 2012 form during the indoor season.

“I’ve never had to handle the pressure of being one of the favourites before in a major championship," admitted Bleasdale, who finished sixth at last year's London 2012 Olympics.

"I’m coming into shape just at the right time, so hopefully everything will work out this weekend.”

Grabarz won the European outdoor title in Helsinki last year and insists he won't buckle under the pressure as he seeks the double.

“It’s nice to have that expectation after 2012, but I’ve always had that expectation of myself going into major championships," he said.

"It’s always a strong field in the high jump whether you’re in Europe or around the world, so it’s going to be a tough competition.

“I come to a championships aiming to win it every time. I’d be happy with a medal but you’re here to win."

Michael Rimmer and Mukhtar Mohammed will also have medal ambitions as they go to Gothenburg ranked as the top two 800m runners in Europe, having run 1:46.55 and 1:46.58 respectively at the British Athletics Grand Prix in Birmingham.

And Perri Shakes-Drayton and Eilidh Child are ranked second and third for the individual 400m and will head to Sweden in good form off the back of the British Athletics Grand Prix, where Shakes-Drayton set an indoor personal best and Child ran a new Scottish record.

“I’m going to go out there and do the best I can do, there’s a lot of girls who have ran a lot more races than me, but I’m in good form, so hopefully I’ll have a good weekend," said Shakes-Drayton.

“I would love a medal, there could be girls that come out of the woodwork – I would love a gold, but I’ve got to do the business first."

British head coach Peter Eriksson will be hoping his 28-strong team get close to the eight medals, including three gold, they won two years ago in Paris. Jenny Meadows is back from injury to defend her 800m title, although Mo Farah and Helen Clitheroe, who both won over 3000m, are absent.

But Eriksson is not following to the lead of predecessor Charles van Commenee and setting a medal target.

“My hopes are that we can do the best we can and I think with the young team we have that we will see a lot of good performances," he said. 

"I’m very positive about it, but we don’t set any medal predictions, so the goal is to do our best.

“We’ve had a good start to the season and hopefully we’ll see even better results. If we do well in Gothenburg, it’s a good stepping stone looking ahead to the World Championships this summer in Moscow.”

© Sportsbeat 2013