By Phil Casey
The Olympic dreams of Britain's Jenny Meadows suffered a massive blow today when she was forced to withdraw from the European Championships in Helsinki.
Meadows, who won bronze in the 800m at the World Championships in Berlin in 2009, has not raced all year due to injury, but was hoping to prove her fitness before the Olympic squad is selected on Monday.
However, the 31-year-old Wigan athlete suffered a reaction to her Achilles injury on the journey to Finland and will not compete in this evening's semi-finals.
The UK Athletics selection panel will not select any athlete "who it has good reason to think will be uncompetitive at the Games due to, for example, injury, illness or lack of recent form," but previous championship performances can also be considered and Meadows will score strongly on that point.
The good news for Meadows is that there are currently still three places available on the team after Marilyn Okoro and Emma Jackson, who could have sealed a place by finishing in the top two at the weekend's trials, were fifth and seventh.
Lynsey Sharp and Jemma Simpson, who were first and second in Birmingham respectively, could fill two places by recording the 'A' standard of one minute 59.90 seconds in Helsinki, but whatever happens there will be at least one spot up for grabs.
"It has been a battle to get back to full fitness after suffering an Achilles tear earlier this year," Meadows said. "I have never been fitter, having spent all winter training on the bike or the Alter-G (an anti-gravity treadmill) and mentally I was ready to come here and compete for a medal.
"But my injury seems to have reacted badly to the flight and whilst we all genuinely believed I would be ready to get to the start line, this setback means I'm so close yet so far. I know I'm selectable based on my previous seven 'A' standards, but it is no longer in my control."