LEEDS athlete Alex Bell is praying a Team GB vest will be worth the wait at next month’s World Championships in Doha where the 800m runner believes she can mix it with the best on the globe.
Apperley Bridge-based Bell was overlooked for selection for last summer’s European Championships despite a fifth-place finish representing England at April’s Commonwealth Games and a sub-two-minute time in a BMC Grand Prix race in Watford.
Failing to make the top two or even top three at July’s trials – the British Championships – ultimately cost Bell dear with GB instead taking Lynsey Sharp – fifth in the 2018 trials – as well as Shelayna Oskan-Clarke and Adelle Tracey with fourth-placed Bell staying at home.
Bell vowed to make it impossible not to be picked for the following year’s Worlds by winning the following year’s trials – the British Championships held in Birmingham last weekend.
The top two automatically book their place on the plane to Doha but Team GB again have the option of taking a third athlete and 26-year-old Bell put her name in pole position for that spot with a British Championships bronze behind Oskan-Clarke and Sharp.
Tracey finished back in seventh and Bell is the only other athlete with the qualifying time to have finished in the top three, meaning all roads ought to lead to a maiden outing for Team GB at the 2019 Worlds with selections announced on Monday.
Bell, though, has been here before – albeit not in such a strong position – with the Pudsey and Bramley Athletics Club star only hoping this time luck is on her side as she bids to not just take on but beat the best in the world.
“I just hope the opportunity comes my way,” said the world no 28. “The opportunity is there, it’s just pursuing it and filling the spots.
“It just depends on whether they take three but those who came third in the other events and have got the standard seem pretty certain they are going. But we’ll just have to wait and see.
“Getting bronze at the British Champs was bittersweet. I have never finished that high up before, every year it has always been fourth, fourth, fourth so I thought I have got to break this cycle.
“When I missed out on selection for the Europeans I had a meeting with them and they said I’d not got medal potential and didn’t have the capabilities.
“So that was the sweetness, I thought if this isn’t medal mentality then what is, it wasn’t a gold but it was a medal and that was the highest I had ever placed.
“That was the sweet moment but obviously I would have liked to have booked my flight already by coming first or second but there’s nothing else you can do now, we are just keeping everything crossed.
“The 800m and the distance events are one of the strongest fields, the standard is so high and even making that final at the weekend was a tough job to do because everyone’s game has just been raised so much.
“I’ve PBd this year and finished my highest ever in the world rankings and I should be definitely fighting for that final in the World Champs. It’s not just going there and making up the numbers, I should be capable of mixing it with the best in the world.”
Bell’s success at the nationals formed part of a tremendous competition for Yorkshire with Callum Wilkinson breaking the British record in taking gold in the 5,000m road walk. Scotty Lincoln also took a shot put gold with Jess Mayho winning the hammer event while Laura Weightman finished third in the 500m.
“Yorkshire is like a little hidden gem,” said Bell. “We can have our own little team, hopefully anyway. But until I see it in writing I am not packing my bags just yet.”
Either way, Bell will definitely be packing her bags in some shape or form with the athlete also selected to represent Europe next month in a one-off contest against the United States. The Worlds, though, is the one she wants most, one year short of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“We have been knocking so hard, constantly, and this season has been such a long road anyway as it is,” said Bell. “It would just mean everything, not just to me but to my coach, my family and everybody who has helped me. Just to get that first GB vest, hopefully it will be worth the wait.”