World Indoor Championships 2016: GB athletes target medals

By David McDaidBBC Olympic sports reporter in Portland
Tiffany Porter, James Dasaolu, and Dina Asher-Smith
Tiffany Porter, James Dasaolu, and Dina Asher-Smith are representing Great Britain at the World Indoor Championships in Portland.
World Indoor Athletics Championships
Venue: Portland, Oregon Dates: 17-20 March
Coverage: Live on BBC TV, Red Button, online, mobile, the BBC Sport app and Connected TV.

British track and field athletes get their first chance of this Olympic year to test themselves against the best at the World Indoor Athletics Championships in the American city of Portland.

The indoor format may not reflect exactly how outdoor results will pan out later in the year, but is nonetheless a gauge of where some athletes are in their preparation for the Rio Olympics.

Great Britain have sent a team of 23 to Portland - reduced after Olympic and World long jump champion Greg Rutherford withdrew through illness and injury.

There is no Jessica Ennis-Hill or Mo Farah in the team but among the British contingent are some who have high hopes of bringing home medals.

British hopefuls

Dina-Asher Smith will be looking to build on 2015 where she broke British records in both the 100m - where she became the first GB woman to break 11 seconds - and the 200m.

In Oregon the 20-year-old will challenge in the 60m event. There, though, she will face stiff competition from Dutch 200m world champion Dafne Schippers and Barbara Pierre of the USA, who have both run world best times of 7.00 seconds this year compared to 7.11 by Asher-Smith.

History in the making for Asher Smith

"I've had a good winter, I feel like I'm in good shape. I've got to work on my execution but for the first time in a long time I'm really happy with where my body is," Asher-Smith told BBC Sport.

"To get on the podium it's going to take a really good race and a fast time - which is why I'm really excited.

"The track feels amazing and hopefully I can put a good race together and be up there with the top girls."

In the men's 60m sprint, James Dasaolu lines up among a well-known cast including American world 100m bronze medallist Trayvon Bromell, Jamaica's Asafa Powell and 39-year-old Kim Collins of St Kitts and Nevis.

Dasaolu is keen to exorcise the ghost of his 2014 World Indoor disappointment. Having been crowned European 100m champion he had to withdraw from the world event after injuring a hamstring.

James Dasaolu
James Dasaolu won the men's 60m at the British Indoor Championships earlier this year

The 28-year-old's season best of 6.53 seconds is just 0.07 off the year's fastest time and he is well aware of the strong British tradition in the event with Jason Gardener, Dwain Chambers and Richard Kilty all winning gold in recent years.

Kilty chose not to defend his 2014 title in order to concentrate on the outdoor season.

In the field events Shara Proctor and Tiffany Porter are Britain's leading contenders.

Proctor set a new British outdoor record of 7.07 metres on her way to world silver last year in the long jump, while Porter, who already has 60m hurdles bronze and silver to her name, is looking to complete the set by taking gold in the country of her birth.

Porter is in good form but whether that will be enough to make the podium remains to be seen as 11 of the 14 fastest times this year have been set by American athletes - including 2013 world champion Brianna Collins, and Keni Harrison.

Tiffany Porter
Porter won five medals (one gold, two silver and two bronze) in five major meetings before the 2015 World Championships in Beijing

"I want desperately to come away victorious. I just need to execute what we've been working on in practice," said the 28-year-old.

"I'm optimistic, I'm feeling good and pretty confident. I'm trying to perfect my craft every day."

Proctor, 27, takes part in a strong field including two-time world indoor champion Brittney Reese and Janay DeLoach, the Olympic bronze medallist.

"I know I can jump further. I definitely want to win and get a personal best," said Proctor, who has jumped 6.91m indoors.

"It's a very strong field so if I win a medal it'll be that much more special because I had to work hard to achieve it."

158 countries present - Russia not among them

These world championships are the first since the All-Russian Athletics Federation was suspended indefinitely from all international competition by the International Association of Athletics Federations after being accused of "state-sponsored" doping.

At the last indoor, as well as outdoor, world championships, Russian athletes claimed a handful of medals mainly in jumping and hurdling events. So, it is perhaps there where their absence will be noticed most.

Russia has until May to change - Coe

Proctor said: "I haven't thought about it. I've just been focused on my competition so it's not something I've paid attention to."

Dasaolu added: "It is a bit strange but for my event there weren't too many Russian sprinters making global finals, going sub-10 seconds and pushing for medals in the 60m.

"So, for me, it hasn't made much difference. But, yes, for the likes of the 1500m and a few field events they may see a difference."

How does this set up athletes for the outdoor season?

The answer to that varies from athlete to athlete and between events.

Natural outdoor variables such as rain and wind are unable to affect results - benefitting some runners as well and pole vaulters and other jumping disciplines.

Meanwhile, runners of distances greater than 60m are slowed down by the shorter 200m track along with its cambered lanes and larger number of bends per distance, compared to the outdoor arena.

The indoor circuit at Portland
With a shorter indoor running track inhibiting runners in events over 60m, it can be difficult to judge athletes ahead of Rio

Nonetheless, it provides some gauge as to where each athlete is in relation to their outdoor rivals looking ahead to the outdoor season.

"The world indoors means different things for different athletes," said Dasaolu, who has hopes of individual and relay success at the Olympics in Rio.

"For me I know I've always run well outdoors off the back of a really strong indoor season."

Porter said: "It's been a big goal on my list this year - obviously with Rio being the biggest goal - and I think it'll be a good stepping stone for the outdoor season."

However, other strong indoor athletes - such as Kilty - have not always been able to convert their indoor prowess to a similar standard over the regular outdoor 100m distance.

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