THE Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics may be only 27 days away but for the very best of Scottish athletics, there is a job to do before they can turn their attention to Olympic glory. 

As yet, a significant number of places in Team GB are yet to be filled. 

This weekend will go a long way to rectifying that. 

Today, the British Athletics Championships, which double as the Olympic trials, begin in Manchester and by Sunday evening, we will have a much clearer picture as to who is heading to Tokyo. 

Selection criteria stipulates athletes must have recorded the Olympic qualifying time in their event and if that has been achieved, a top-two finish in their chosen event this weekend will guarantee selection for Team GB. There is also a third place available in each event at the discretion of the selectors, but few will want to leave their fate in the hands of officials if they can help it. 

Recent teams for major athletics championships have seen Scotland punching above its weight. 

It has become the norm for at least a dozen Scots to muscle their way into the GB team for recent major championships, with 15 making it to the Rio Olympics five years ago, before a record 16 made it to the London World Championships the following year and hopes are similarly high that Scotland will have significant representation in Tokyo when the athletics kicks off at the Olympic Stadium in a few weeks time. 

Already selected for the athletics squad are Steph Davis, Steph Twell and Callum Hawkins in the marathon, as well as Eilish McColgan in the 10,000m. 

Whether a middle-distance fan or not, the men’s 1500m is shaping up to be an unmissable race. 

For several seasons, it has been the most hotly contested event in Britain, with Scots leading the charge. 

Jake Wightman is at the head of the pack having had a mightily impressive year since racing resumed following lockdown. 

The National:

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A Scottish record last season has given the 26-year-old, who finished fifth in the 1500m final at the World Championships in 2019, an ideal platform upon which to build. Having already secured the qualification time for Tokyo, Wightman must only ensure a top-two finish to guarantee he will be heading to his first Olympics. 

That may not be quite as straightforward as it sounds, though. 

Fellow Scot, Josh Kerr, leads this season’s rankings following his personal best run of 3 minutes 31.55 seconds earlier this month while Elliot Giles, Charlie Grice, Jake Heyward and Piers Copeland have all also dipped under the qualification mark. 

However, 2019 British champion and world finalist, Neil Gourley will be absent through injury, as will 2016 Olympian, Chris O’Hare. 

The women’s middle distance will showcase Scotland’s prime Olympic medal hopes. 

Training partners Laura Muir and Jemma Reekie are both entered in the 800m and the 1500m, with the former primarily targeting the longer distance in Tokyo, her younger prodigy prioritising the shorter distance. 

The 800m in particular is uber competitive this weekend, with five women having run the Olympic standard and six under two minutes, although two-time Olympian, Lynsey Sharp, will be missing as she awaits the arrival of her first child.  

Both Muir and Reekie may sit out their favoured events at the trials knowing their Olympic selection is all but guaranteed, but their performances will be an important gauge of their form just weeks out from the Games. 

In the sprints, 2018 200m British champion, Beth Dobbin will look to book her seat on the plane to Japan and having run the Olympic standard last month, looks in position to secure her Olympic debut. World champion Dina Asher-Smith is a class above the rest but Dobbin leads the chasing pack. 

The National:

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Zoey Clark has become a mainstay in British teams in recent seasons but, as yet, has still to run the 400m qualifying time of 51.35 seconds for the individual event, although a relay spot at the very least is a near certainty. 

Eilish McColgan is already assured she will be heading to Japan having won the 10,000m trials earlier this month but this weekend, she will run the 5000m, in which she is heavy favourite, topping the British rankings by a whopping 17 seconds. 

In the men’s 5000m, Andy Butchart, who has yet to dip under the qualifying time, is confident of adding to his trio of British titles while Guy Learmonth must improve on his form of this season if he is to make the 800m squad. 

On the field, hammer thrower Chris Bennett and discus thrower Kirsty Law are both eyeing up places in Team GB, although neither have thrown the qualifying distance as yet. 

High jumper Nikki Manson is another who has a chance of selection, although she must find a few centimetres on her personal best to make the standard. 

Elsewhere, the men’s 100m is always worth a watch, with Chijindu Ujah the only athlete to have dipped under the Olympic standard while four-time Olympic champion, Mo Farah, will make a last-gasp bid to make the team, going in the 10,000m. 

Double sprint world champion, Sammi Kinghorn, will make an appearance in the 400m wheelchair race as she continues her build-up to the Paralympics. 

There has been much outcry about the fact the event this weekend will not be televised, which is an indictment on both the sport and the broadcasters.  

For the athletes, however, there are far more pressing matters to concern themselves with in the coming days.