The stars to watch at The European Championships 2018

The BBC's pundits pick Britain's best medal hopes in Berlin - and the hottest contenders from the rest of Europe

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JULY 1:  Laura Muir of Great Britain celebrates winning the Women's 800m Final during Day Two of the Muller British Athletics Championships at the Alexander Stadium on July 1, 2018 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Stephen Pond - British Athletics/Getty Images)

Steve Cram

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - AUGUST 16: Steve Cram attends the IAAF Ambassador Programme Press Conference during Day Seven of the 14th IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 at Luzhniki Stadium at Luzhniki Stadium on August 16, 2013 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Reece Prescod – Men’s 100m

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Britain might not be a hotbed of sprinting compared with the Caribbean and the US, but Team GB certainly has some of the best sprinters on the continent — and Reece Prescod and Zharnel Hughes are the pick of the crop. When Prescod gets going he’s as fast as anybody in the world, although — like Usain Bolt early in his career — he doesn’t always get the best start. But at 22 he’s got time to work on it. Others will get out quicker; it’s going to be all about how much quicker. But anyone pulling on a British vest in the 100m will be thinking of victory.

Heats begin Monday afternoon BBC1

Laura Muir – Women’s 1500m

Laura Muir was aiming to run both the 800m and the 1500m, but after the Anniversary Games in London she decided to stick to the 1500m, her stronger event. The 25-year-old is so good at the moment, she’s a red-hot favourite. The British record of 3 min 55.22 seconds she ran in 2016 is two seconds faster than Kelly Holmes. Laura hasn’t won an outdoor gold medal yet, though I fully expect her to fulfil that potential. Winning gold would give her a real confidence boost going into the World Championships next year. 

Heats Friday morning BBC2

Chris O’Hare – Men’s 1500m

Just like Laura Muir on the women’s side, it’s looking good for the Brits in the men’s 1500m, too. 2017 Anniversary Games winner Chris O’Hare, 27, will be challenging — he’s one of a record 17 Scottish athletes in the squad, along with fellow 1500m runner Jake Wightman. They’ll have to watch out for Norwegian brothers Filip and Jakob Ingebrigtsen, though. Younger brother Jakob’s still only a teenager but he’s a phenomenal talent.

Heats Wednesday midday BBC2

Renaud Lavillenie – Men’s pole vault

In European athletics there are some events where the competition is really weak. Not so in the men’s pole vault. Here you will be looking at the best in the world. World record-holder (with 6.16m) Renaud Lavillenie of France won gold at London 2012 and silver in Rio. But, aged 31, he’ll have to fight off the young pretender, Armand “Mondo” Duplantis, an incredible 18-year- old competing for Sweden.

Qualifying round Friday morning BBC2

Denise Lewis

ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: Denise Lewis attends day 2 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 17, 2015 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Dina Asher-Smith – Women’s 100m and 200m

Dina Asher-Smith has had a sensational start to the season, running under 11 seconds in the 100m on several occasions. She plans to compete in both the 100m and the 200m, and her speed endurance is so strong and her running style so effortless, I make her the favourite in both. I’ll be disappointed if she doesn’t come away with at least one gold medal. Her main threat will be the Dutch sprint star Dafne Schippers, who at 26 is four years older and time and again delivers when it really counts.

Heats Monday afternoon BBC1 and Friday morning BBC2

Women’s 4 x 100m Relay

Our women’s relay team has traditionally done well in European Championships and I expect more of the same. Our team of hungry young sprinters — including Daryll Neita, 21, who has really progressed well since the Olympics — are a fearless quartet who believe this is their time. I’m not arguing.

Heats and final Sunday 12 August

Lorraine Ugen – Women’s long jump

Lorraine Ugen made a world-leading jump of 7.05m at last month’s British Championships so at 26 she’s really coming into her own. She’s always been talented, but sometimes produced her best only in quali cation. That huge jump gives her real hope. A battle between all the British girls, including Jazmin Sawyers and Shara Proctor, will be fascinating, but Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic will take some stopping: she won gold at the World Indoor Championships earlier this year, and has to be the favourite.

Qualifying round Thursday morning BBC2

Holly Bradshaw – Women’s pole vault

After injury, this is Holly Bradshaw’s comeback year. At 26 she’s in her prime and has been jumping well. If she can iron out her inconsistencies and secure that early height, there’s no reason why she can’t make the podium.

Qualifying round Thursday evening BBC2

Nafissatou Thiam – Heptathlon

In a world-class field, watch out for the Olympic and world champion,Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium, 23. She’s not in perfect shape, but she’s still a fierce competitor. Her main threat will be defending champion Anouk Vetter, who’s a strong thrower. Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson will do well to get onto the podium.

Thursday, Friday BBC1/2

Paula Radcliffe

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 26: Paula Radcliffe answers questions at a press conference after her race during the London Marathon on April 26, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Joseph Okpako/WireImage)

Stephanie Twell – Women’s 5,000m

Steph Twell, 28, won her fifth British 5,000m title to qualify in first place for this event and she looks to be in great shape. She won a European bronze in Amsterdam two years ago, but Eilish McColgan and Melissa Courtney will push her all the way. Steph is dangerous when it’s a slower race and she’s able to show her strength at the end, so fingers crossed for a slow pace.

Final Sunday 12 August

Chris Thompson – Men’s 5,000m and 10,000m

This is a great story to look out for. Aged 37, and 20 years after he represented Great Britain for the first time, Chris Thompson is back in the squad after an injury-hit past few years. Thompson has happy memories of the European Championships, having won 10,000m silver behind Mo Farah at Barcelona in 2010, so fingers crossed he will be celebrating again in Berlin.

Finals Tuesday evening BBC1 (10,000m) and Saturday 11 August (5,000m)

Alex Yee – Men’s 10,000m

Alex Yee is a name you’re going to hear a lot more of. The 20-year-old is also an international-level triathlete and is currently running a faster 5,000m time than Mo Farah when he was the same age. He’s an exceptional athlete with so much promise. Final Tuesday evening BBC1

Charlotte Arter – Women’s 10,000m

Charlotte Arter is running exceptionally well and has produced personal bests at every distance she’s raced at. At 27 she already has a European Cup bronze and will be looking to top that in Berlin. Final Wednesday evening BBC2

Volha Mazuronak – Women’s marathon

Volha Mazuronak of Belarus, 29, is the favourite. She ran brilliantly in Rio to finish fifth. But without the Ethiopians and the Kenyans here, she looks nailed on for gold.

Sunday 12 August

Eilidh Barbour on golf

Eilidh Barbour reports for STV Scottish Television
Eilidh Barbour reports for STV Scottish Television

These championships clash with the US PGA Championship, which is the final major of the year, so unfortunately the best players in the world will all be over in the USA. But the good news is that both the British men’s and women’s teams are undoubtedly the strongest in Europe. Scotland’s Richie Ramsay will be a home favourite so expect plenty of raucous support for him on the fairway at Gleneagles.

Britain’s Laura Davies is the clear favourite in the women’s competition, but keep an eye out for Catriona Matthew — Scotland’s best player and also the 2019 Solheim Cup captain. She famously won the 2009 Women’s British Open 11 weeks after giving birth.

From Wednesday morning

Matt Chilton on triathlon

If Alistair Brownlee is racing fit, and there’s been some doubts about that, he starts as favourite in the men’s event. His brother Jonny misses out through injury and that opens the door for Marc Austin. He was racing for Scotland when he won bronze at the Commonwealth Games and he’s really improved since then, so I expect him and Alistair to break away from the pack. The course is in Strathclyde Country Park and the key thing is that there’s a significant climb. They have to tackle it on every lap on the bike, and if one person loves a climb, it’s Alistair. Defending champion Jessica Learmonth also enjoys a climb, so I expect her to go well in the women’s triathlon. Non Stanford, a former world champion from Wales, missed most of last season through injuries, but is starting to find her best form and could be a serious threat. It’s a wide-open contest so don’t rule out Sophie Coldwell either.

Watch out for the mixed relay. Each member of the team, comprising two men and two women, complete a mini triathlon before tagging their team-mate. It’s a dynamic format and there’s never a dull moment. France, Spain and Switzerland will be contenders, but Britain’s Alistair Brownlee, Marc Austin, Jess Learmonth and Non Stanford sound like a dream team to me.

Thursday, Friday afternoon

James Cracknell on rowing

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 24: James Cracknell starts the Virgin London Marathon 2016 on April 24, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

Men’s eight

Even if you know nothing about rowing, this is the one to watch. The best rowers from the British team — Will Satch and Mo Sbihi — are in the men’s eight so it’s our top boat and they will be aiming to repeat their gold medal-winning performance at the Rio Olympics when they pipped the Germans by a second. The Germans are our fiercest rivals — they won the World Championships last year and have been dominant in every race this year. If the British boys can get within a second of them, they’ll consider that a huge step forward.

Sunday afternoon

Women’s single scull

Vicky Thornley is our stand-out performer in the women’s team. She won a silver medal with Kath Grainger at Rio but has switched to the single boat with great success. She won a silver medal in the World Championships last year, but hasn’t found the same form this year. It’s the toughest event, but expect Vicky to raise her game.

Saturday morning

Beth Tweddle on gymnastics

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 06: Gymnast Beth Tweddle attends a photocall after announcing her retirement at Chobham Academy on August 6, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by John Phillips/UK Press via Getty Images)

Big things are expected of Georgia-Mae Fenton (below), who won gold on the uneven bars at the Commonwealth Games. I can’t wait to see how she handles performing in front of a home crowd in Glasgow. The noise and the expectation bring a real pressure, but they can really help you to raise your game.

The bars will be a huge battle between Georgia and her team-mate Rebecca Downie, who’s back on form after suffering a bad injury last year. Both their routines have a huge degree of difficulty so it’ll be all about who handles her nerves best.

In the men’s event, all eyes will be on Britain’s Max Whitlock. He’s a phenomenal talent and always delivers in the oor and pommel events. Glasgow seems to bring out the best in him. He won gold there at the Commonwealth Games in 2014, followed by the world title in 2015.

The British women can expect strong competition from Belgium’s Nina Derwael. She’s a stunning performer and her routines on the bars are breathtaking. She won bronze at the World Championships last year and will be going all out for the European title.

From Saturday afternoon

Chris Boardman on cycling

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 04: British Cycling Team Technical Advisor Chris Boardman poses for a photo in the Manchester Velodrome on March 4, 2009 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Mark Cavendish is down to compete in the road race and, after his disappointing showing in this year’s Tour de France, he should be red up to make an impact. But I don’t make him a favourite because the street circuit in Glasgow — the same one that was used in the Commonwealth Games four years ago — is absolutely brutal. Although there are virtually

no big climbs, there were so many drags it adds up to thousands of feet of climbing. There will be 16 laps, so it’ll be fantastic racing.

In the women’s road racing, an up-and-coming Brit to watch out for is 23-year-old Alice Barnes. She competed in mountain biking in her early days but has made the transition effortlessly. The younger sister of fellow British racer Hannah, she’s a star in the making.

From Sunday afternoon

On the track, the British team have essentially our full Olympic squad and, with no Australians in the competition, you can expect them to dominate. Laura Kenny (below) looks set to compete in the omnium and team pursuit and is nailed on for gold.

Two riders who are assured of massive support are Scottish siblings John and Katie Archibald. Competing on home soil in the endurance events, they’re going to be backed by a noisy crowd. Sit back and enjoy watching them both win gold.

From Friday 3 August

In the mountain biking, Grant Ferguson is a five times British champion so I fancy him to win gold. Annie Last became the first British woman in 20 years to win the Cross-Country World Cup last year. She won at the Commonwealth Games, is in great form and could well make it a golden double.

Tue 7 Aug

Rebecca Adlington on swimming

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 06: Former competitive swimmer Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain attends Day 1 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on on August 6, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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How do you rate Adam Peaty’s chances?

He didn’t win the 50m at the Commonwealth Games, but he didn’t have a bag Games, it just wasn’t his best. And over the 100m he’s still unbeaten, which is incredible. He’ll be wanting to post even quicker times and he looks in incredible shape.

Superstar to watch

Scotland’s Duncan Scott did incredibly well at the Commonwealth Games – he got six medals, which is an incredible amount, including gold in the 100m freestyle, an event that nobody expected him to win. We saw him get Olympic medals in the relays in Rio, but now it’s his time to be getting medals in the individuals – I think he’s on course to become a multiple Olympic medallist again in Tokyo.

The men’s 100m freestyle heats begin on Saturday morning on BBC2

And Britain’s women?

At 27, Alys Thomas is one of our oldest swimmers, but she’s trained really hard and in April went to the Commonwealth Games and won the 200m butterfly. She shows you that you don’t have to be 16 to win a medal.

The women’s 200m butterfly heats begin on Sunday morning on BBC2

Leon Taylor on diving

ATHENS - AUGUST 14: Peter Waterfield and Leon Taylor (L) of Great Britain compete in the men's synchronised diving 10 metre platform event on August 14, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Aquatic Centre Indoor Pool at the Olympic Sports Complex in Athens, Greece.(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
ATHENS – AUGUST 14: Peter Waterfield and Leon Taylor (L) of Great Britain compete in the men’s synchronised diving 10 metre platform event on August 14, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Aquatic Centre Indoor Pool at the Olympic Sports Complex in Athens, Greece.(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

There’s no Tom Daley (injured) or Tonia Couch (retired) this year, but Jack Laugher and Chris Mears are the ones to beat in the 3m synchro, having won gold in Rio and at the last European Aquatics Championships in 2016. They’ll have to be on form to defend their title –  the Russians will be very strong.

Grace Reid is a real talent and a contender for three golds in the women’s 3m springboard, 3m synchro and 3m mixed synchro. With Katherine Torrance, she won bronze at the Diving World Series in the 3m synchro in May, and they look set to improve on that in Glasgow.

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Follow the mixed 3m synchro final on Wednesday afternoon on BBC2, the women’s 3m springboard preliminary and final is on Saturday 11th August and the women’s 3m synchro final is on Sunday 12 August