BY JOE CLENNELL
Katie Snowden says this weekend’s European Athletics Indoor Championships will act as the “ideal stepping stone” for the 2020 Olympics.
The 26-year-old Herne Hill Harriers athlete – a 1,500m specialist – is part of GB’s 41-strong team for the event in Poland. It will serve as invaluable experience as Snowden aims for selection for the Tokyo Games, which are due to begin on July 23.
She was a member of England’s 2018 Commonwealth Games team and sees this as a perfect opportunity to gain more experience of a major competition. Snowden said: “It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been to a big championships as I’ve struggled a bit with injury. So the main reason to go there is to put myself back in that kind of environment.
“The Olympics is the main goal. I wasn’t sure initially whether to do this or to just train all the way through to the Olympics, but I think it’s just so important to get these racing opportunities as there’s been hardly any at all.
“It will be slightly strange going into a big competition with no crowds but I’m going there feeling optimistic. It’ll be a great race experience ahead of Tokyo in the summer hopefully.”
Snowden earned a place at the European championships after achieving the qualification time earlier in the season and finishing second at last week’s British selection trials in Manchester.
She was just 0.14 seconds behind Cambridge-based Holly Archer, who will also run in the event in Poland.
Snowden – who is yet to compete at an Olympics – is hoping that a good performance will put her in contention for selection ahead of the British Olympic trials on June 26.
In a season which has been affected by both the pandemic and injuries, Snowden’s race opportunities have been few and far between. She returned from a month-long lay-off in January only for the British Indoor Championships to be cancelled for the first time since 1961 due to Covid-19.
Snowden admits that her preparation for the European indoors in Torun has been less than ideal.
“I would have liked a couple more races leading up to these championships,” said Snowden.
“I haven’t really had the opportunity to do a fast race and see where I’m actually at [in terms of performance]. The last couple of races have been pretty slow and tactical. It’s been a bit unfortunate that we couldn’t have more races to prepare.
“It would have been good to have a flat-out race but there hasn’t been that opportunity.”
Snowden remains confident about her chances in Poland after two consecutive second-place finishes in Manchester.
“Making the final is definitely the first aim but once you’re there I do think this year is looking quite open,” she said. “Middle-distance running in Europe is very strong at the moment but having said that I don’t think there’s a clear favourite.”
Snowden will be up against Ciara Mageean, who claimed bronze in the event in 2019, after the Portaferry athlete was included in the Ireland team for the championships.
“A medal would be great and that’s obviously what I’m going for but anything can happen,” said Snowden. “These races can be quite tactical in how they’re run, so it also depends on how the race goes.”
Snowden’s 1500m heat takes place today, with the final tomorrow.
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