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Christian Malcolm relaxed about athletes missing World Indoor Championships

Christian Malcolm backed the numerous British athletes who have chosen to miss this month’s World Indoor Championships in Belgrade.

A 33-strong team was named on Tuesday headed by 800 metres star Keely Hodgkinson, who will also compete in the 4x400m relay.

The 19-year-old stands out in a team shorn of many of the bigger names in British athletics, but Olympic head coach Malcolm is happy for athletes to pace themselves with an outdoor world championships and home Commonwealth Games coming up this summer.

He said: “I am comfortable. I don’t not want athletes to be able to compete but I think they’ve got to be able to plan and prepare in the right way.

“I feel, with the three big championships, there are a lot of events that a lot of athletes have got to choose which one are they going to do. Two of the three? One of the three?

“A lot of these guys that have chosen not to do the indoor season, and with the World Indoors being a little bit later in March, I think it’s a good decision. But what we find is you have people to step up and take opportunities.”

Malcolm declined to set a medal target but it is clear that Olympic silver medallist Hodgkinson is a huge hope for gold having run the fastest indoor time for 20 years in her first race of the season.

“We’ve had numerous conversations with her and her coach over the winter,” said Malcolm. “She talked about the impact of the 4x400m and I was like, ‘OK, this is part of your plan’.

“It was good to hear she had the appetite to do that. The thing about Keely is for us not to put too much pressure on her and just let her enjoy what she’s doing. She’s a very exciting talent.”

Malcolm backed the decision of World Athletics to ban Russian athletes from competing at the event under any flag and will talk to any of his team who are concerned about travelling to eastern Europe.

He said: “Obviously we’ve had conversations before we announced the selection with some athletes and we’ll be having ongoing conversations as things will start to develop. This is not a situation where anyone is forced to do anything they don’t want to do.”

Ed Faulds (left) will make his senior debut at this month’s Championships (Martin Rickett/PA)

Joining Hodgkinson in the team are 2018 world indoor 60m hurdles champion Andrew Pozzi, who secured his place with victory at last weekend’s UK Indoor Championships in Birmingham, and British long jump champion Lorraine Ugen.

Ed Faulds, who recently broke the 400m European under-20 record with a time of 46.16 seconds, is among eight athletes set to make their senior debuts.

Marc Scott, who set a new European indoor 5,000m record earlier this year, is also included in the team.

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