Athletics - Bleasdale and Gemili to lead GB at European Under-23s

Holly Bleasdale will be looking to defend her pole vault crown after being selected for next month's European Under-23 Championships in Tampere, Finland.

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Athletics - Bleasdale and Gemili to lead GB at European Under-23s
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Holly Bleasdale (Imago)

Bleasdale, who finished sixth at the London 2012 Olympics last summer, has been in fine form this season – winning the European Indoor Championships and earning selection for this weekend's European Team Championships in Gateshead.

And the 21-year-old British record holder will don the GB vest another time this summer after being chosen to travel to Finland where she will defend her under-23 crown having won the title in Ostrava in 2011.

Bleasdale is joined at the European Under-23 Championships, which run from July 11-14, by fellow London Olympian Adam Gemili, who is set to be a busy man after being selected for three sprint events.

The 19-year-old has been busy building on a dream 2012 that saw him win the world junior 100m title and reach the semi-finals of the same event at London 2012.

Gemili he has won every race he's entered over 100m and 200m so far this season – including collecting both sprint crowns at last weekend's England Athletics Under 23 Championships and European Trials in Bedford.

Gemili's medal haul from Bedford included setting a new 200m championship record of 20.30 seconds and he will compete in the half lap as well as the 100m 4x100m relay in Finland.

Meanwhile Olympic hammer finalist Sophie Hitchon, world junior long jump champion and London 2012 heptathlon competitor Katarina Johnson-Thompson and double European junior champion from 2011 Jodie Williams have also been selected.

Great Britain's European Junior Championships squad heading to Italy on July 18-21 has also been named with three medallists from last year's World Junior Championships among the contingent.

Jessica Judd, who ran a personal best of 2:00.96 to clinch silver in Barcelona last summer, will look to go one better at the European Championships and will be fresh from her first senior GB run-out having earned selection for the European Team Championships.

Joining Judd in a strong first wave of selections is Emelia Gorecka, bronze medallist at the World Junior Championships 12 months ago, and Jazmin Sawyers, the reigning world junior long jump bronze medallist.

And British Athletics performance director Neil Black believes that both teams are in a position to perform well.

He said: "In these first waves of selection we have selected two very strong groups of athletes that I'm sure will do well in Tampere and Rieti this summer.

"With the hard work of our coaches and support staff, as well as the support of the National Lottery, we have been able to help our talented young athletes to develop into a position to win international medals at age group championships and progress into the senior ranks."

A second wave of selections will be made for the European Under 23 Championships on July 1 and for the European Junior Championships on July 8.

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