Birmingham 2007 European indoor championships


60m Rivals in Grand Prix Dress Rehearsal

BRITISH SPRINT STARS Mark Lewis-Francis and Jason Gardener will face their two biggest rivals for European indoor gold this season at the Norwich Union Grand Prix in Birmingham on February 17.

UK Athletics has confirmed that Olympic silver medallist Francis Obikwelu and World indoor silver medallist Andrey Yepishin will compete at the National Indoor Arena meeting, just a fortnight before the European Indoor Championships on the same track.

And that will provide the perfect preparation for Britain's top two indoor sprinters as they gear up for a European medal campaign.

Portugal's Obikwelu comes into 2007 with 100m and 200m European titles under his belt from last season and will be looking to add further medals this year at the Europeans and also the outdoor World Championships in Osaka.

He said: "It gave me great confidence to win double European titles last season and I am looking to confirm my status as one of the world's top sprinters with a medal at the World Championships in August."

"I always enjoy running in Britain and the Norwich Union Grand Prix in Birmingham will be a great chance to race against some strong competition.

"It will be a testing challenge ahead of the European Indoors."

Meanwhile Russia's Yepishin was the silver medallist behind Obikwelu at the European outdoors in Gothenburg last summer and will be aiming to add to his medal tally with his first indoor European title in Birmingham in March should he qualify.

He will face tough competition though from defending champion Jason Gardener who will be encouraged by a home crowd to retain his title.

Both Lewis-Francis and Gardener will run over 60m at the Norwich Union Grand Prix and will hope to run on the same track if they qualify for the European Indoor Championships the following month.

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