Keely Hodgkinson, women’s 800m
Perhaps the breakout British athlete of 2021 and on the team with with Jemma Reekie and Alexandra Bell, who replaced Laura Muir after the Scot’s decision not to double up with the 1,500m.
Hodgkinson, who always appears to have so much fun racing, beat Reekie and Muir at the trials and is beginning to make a habit of delivering in big races. The 19-year-old has already dipped under 1:59 and few would be surprised if she takes another chunk off her personal best (1:58.89) out in Tokyo.
Elliot Giles, men’s 800m
You could pick any of the men’s 800m athletes to focus on, Oliver Dustin is fearless on the track and Daniel Rowden has show real grit and determination to overcome a thigh problem.
But Elliot Giles stands as much chance as any of the Brits to mix it with American Clayton Murphy, who ran a world-leading 1:43.17 seconds at the US trials.
Giles has the speed, having clocked 1:43.63 indoors in Poland earlier this year, but crucially he is battle-tested, with a wealth of experience from a fiercely-competitive British trials and appearances at two World Championships and, of course, the Olympics in Rio five years ago.
Dina Asher-Smith, women’s 100m and 200m
Arguably the face of British athletics right now and also primed to compete in the race of the Games.
While the 200m should be equally as explosive, the women’s 100m is absolutely stacked and Asher-Smith can cement her legacy by emerging from a world class field that will include defending champion Elaine Thompson-Herah and Jamaican teammate Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who ran the second-fastest time of all time in Kingston this month (10.63). Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare also poses a threat, though American phenom Sha’Carri Richardson is out after her failed drugs test.
Holly Bradshaw, women’s pole vault
It’s a third Olympic team for Bradshaw, who is hitting top form at the perfect time, having bettered her nine-year-old British record at the Olympic trials by clearing 4.90m in Manchester.
The Blackburn athlete is third in the world this year, with only Katie Nageotte (4.95m) and Anzhelika Sidorova (4.91m) bettering her.
Laura Muir, women’s 1,500m
The outstanding Scot has been busy mixing it with world champion Sifan Hassan and Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon.
This trio should combine to produce a historic race in Tokyo.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson, women’s heptathlon
An Achilles injury lingers for KJT, but the 28-year-old appears to have shaken off any injury doubts and will look to add Olympic gold to her world title in her third Games.
Johnson-Thompson will ramp up her preparation for a compelling battle in Tokyo with Belgium’s Nafi Thiam by competing twice in Montpellier, which should provide further more context surrounding her condition.
Adam Gemili, men’s 200m
Incredibly entering his third Olympics, Gemili will focus on the 200m here and will need to make gains in the coming weeks to stand a chance of winning a medal.
Fourth in Rio, Gemili may need to better his personal best (19.97) to contend again this summer. His season’s best is 20.58, which would have finished last in the recent US Olympic Team Trials, with the Americans represented in Tokyo by world champion Noah Lyles, Gateshead Diamond League winner Kenny Bednarek and 17-year-old super-talent Erriyon Knighton, all of whom ducked under 19.85.
The star-power, including André De Grasse, a silver medalist in Rio, is strong here, but Gemili has the experience to peak at just the right time.
Lawrence Okoye, men’s discus
It’s been a successful return to Team GB for Okoye, who disappeared from the athletics world for seven years, spending five years in the NFL, as a defensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers, while featuring on various practice squads.
A final appearance at London 2012, the 29-year-old’s season’s best of 67.13 ranks him 12th in the world.
Jake Wightman and Josh Kerr, men’s 1,500m
Another candidate to emerge as the race of the Games, both Jake Wightman and Josh Kerr are two more athletes to have benefited from immense depth at the British Championships.
Kerr pipped Wightman on the line in Manchester, but both will be targeting medals and can mix it with favourites Timothy Cheruiyot and Jakob Ingebrigtsen.
The pair are joined on the team by Jake Heyward, with the 1,500m sure to deliver drama with its beautiful blend of athletic prowess and tactical intrigue.
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