Croydon Harrier Martyn Rooney will be leading the British charge at the Athletics World Championships in Beijing, which begin tomorrow and feature six south west London athletes.
The European 400m champion was named captain of the 63-strong British by UK Athletics performance director Neil Black last week, despite only being selected for the individual event after an appeal.
The 28-year-old has experience of competing in Beijing from the World Junior Athletics Championships in 2006, where he won a bronze medal, and at the 2008 Beijing Olympics when he came sixth in the 400m final.
“It has always been an honour to represent my country and something I’ve been lucky enough to do for the last 10 years,” said Rooney.
“In many ways everything really started to kick off for me in Beijing at the World Juniors in 2006 when I won the bronze medal, so to now to have the privilege of returning to China and captaining the British Athletics team at the World Champs is a job and a responsibility that fills with me with great pride.”
Black chose Rooney over many other experienced athletes, including three Olympic champions, because he believes he can bridge the gap between the established stars and the young talent.
“I feel Martyn is the perfect person for this role as he commands the respect of all his teammates and has the invaluable experience of competing in Beijing previously, most significantly in the 2008 Olympics at the Bird’s Nest itself – the very stadium hosting this year’s World Championships,” he said.
“But it is more than just experience that he will bring to the post, he is a natural born leader and has the ability to inspire. I am delighted he has accepted this role.”
Rooney will begin his quest for a first individual medal at the World Championship in the 400m heats at 4.10am British time on Sunday, with the semi-finals at 1.05pm on Monday and final at 2.25pm on Wednesday.
He won a silver medal in the 400m relay in 2009 and will be looking to add to that in the heats, at 3.40am on Saturday, August 29, and final at 1.25pm on August 30, the final race of the Championships.
Also competing for south west London are:
Teddington’s Mo Farah will be looking to put recent doping controversy behind him by defending his 10,000m and 5,000m titles.
Farah won the 5,000m in both 2011 and 2013, and won the 10,000m in 2013 after being pushed into silver in 2011.
He will be going for 10,000m gold on the first day of competition tomorrow (Saturday, August 22) at 1.50pm British time.
The 5,000m heats take place on Wednesday at 2.35am with the final on August 29 at 12.30pm.
The men’s 100m is always the showpiece event and looks set to be an enthralling battle with Croydon Harrier James Dasaolu hoping to be among the medals.
But with a season’s best of only 10.12 seconds, he will need a significant improvement if he is to make the final let alone challenge the big guns of Usain Bolt and Jason Gatlin.
Dasaolu’s first round will be in the heats at 12.20pm on Saturday, with the semi-final at 12.10pm and final at 2.15pm on Sunday.
HARRY AIKINES-ARYEETEY AND JAMES ELLINGTON
Sutton and District’s Harry Aikines-Aryeetey and Croydon-based James Ellington will team up in the 100m relay.
In 2013, GB were disqualified in the final after a mistake between the pair on a handover cost the team a bronze medal.
The relay heats take place on August 29 at 5.20am with the final later the same day at 2.10pm.
Twickenham’s Steph Twell is back on the world stage after missing the London 2012 Olympics and the 2013 World Championships through injury.
Competing in the 5,000m, she will be hoping to emulate the form that saw her win the bronze medal in the 1,500m at the Commonwealth Games in 2010.
Her heat will be on Thursday at 2.40pm and final on August 30 at 12.15pm.
Feature image of Martyn Rooney, courtesy of the BBC, with thanks