Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson have been named in a stronger-than-expected England athletics squad for the Commonwealth Games, which includes all the big stars as well as young sensations such as the 800m runner Max Burgin.
Asher-Smith, the world 200m champion, has particularly delighted organisers by confirming that she will race in the women’s 100m and 4x100m, which sets up a potential showdown with the Olympic champion, Elaine Thompson-Herah, and the world champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
With the Tokyo 100m bronze medallist, Shericka Jackson, also expected to travel to Birmingham, insiders are hoping that the “race of the championships” is on the cards.
The world champion Johnson-Thompson has confirmed that she will defend her heptathlon Commonwealth title. While the selections of Keely Hodgkinson, who won Olympic silver over 800m in Tokyo, and the pole vaulter Holly Bradshaw, who claimed a bronze, means the 93-strong squad contains more leading athletes than initially anticipated in a season where many will compete at the world championships in Eugene and the European Championships in Munich.
Burgin, who ran a world leading 1:43.52 last week in Finland, was delighted to be given the chance to win his first senior title. “I feel over the last three years I haven’t really been able to show what I can do because of my injury problems so I feel that this is finally my chance to show that I can run at world-class level,” he said. “To be able to do that in front of a home crowd would just be ideal.”
Kelly Sotherton, the team leader for England’s athletics team, said she expected plenty of medals. “There are genuine medal opportunities across all events,” she said. “I am looking forward to watching familiar faces and new ones emerge in the biggest event here since London 2012.”