Tomlinson pushing for Olympics place at European Championships
CHRIS Tomlinson is determined to push his Olympic credentials when he competes in the European Athletics Championships that begin in Helsinki this morning.
Having failed to secure an automatic Olympic place at last weekend's Aviva UK Trials, Tomlinson's fate is in the hands of the selectors.
Greg Rutherford is assured of a place in the London Games, but the selectors can opt to send a second long jumper to the Olympics if they feel he is capable of being competitive.
Middlesbrough-born Tomlinson is a veteran of two previous Olympics, but has not secured the 'A' qualifying mark for London after an injury-hit winter affected the start of his outdoor campaign.
He could only finish third at the trials, a centimetre behind JJ Jegede, and with the duo both heading to Helsinki, the European Championships could effectively turn into a shoot-out between the pair.
"I'm not going to hide it, I was disappointed with my performance at the trials," said Tomlinson. "But when I've watched things back there are reasons why it didn't quite go to plan and there's definitely still some rustiness in my jumping.
"The big jumps are there in training, it's just about converting them to competitions now. I was out for a quite a while and it inevitably takes you a few competitions to get back to the top of your form.
"Obviously with the Olympics just around the corner, time is of the essence, but I know what I'm capable of and I'm not far away.
"It's important I give a good account of myself at the Europeans, but it's also important I don't try to pile too much pressure on one competition."
Tomlinson proved his ability to compete on the biggest stage when he finished fifth on his Olympic debut in Athens eight years ago.
He wasn't quite so successful in Beijing, but confirmed his continued well-being when he claimed a European bronze medal in 2010.
He boasts much more experience than his rivals for the second long-jumping place, and is hoping that will influence the selectors' thinking when they meet to finalise their team.
"I've won major medals in the past and have numerous A standards from last season, when I equalled the British record," said Tomlinson, who takes part in long jumping qualifying on Friday ahead of Sunday's final. "In that respect, I can tick a lot of boxes.
"I haven't jumped as far as I would have liked this season, but let's be honest, that's been the story right across the world of long jumping.
"There are a lot of top jumpers who haven't really posted anything special this season, but in an Olympic year, no one wants to be peaking too soon.
"I've jumped 8m this season, so that's a base. Hopefully, I'll kick on a bit at the Europeans."
With the European Championships falling less than a month before the start of the Olympics, this year's competition is a pale imitation of previous renewals.
A number of leading British athletes are not travelling to Helsinki - Dwain Chambers' exclusion from the squad suggests the controversial sprinter has already done enough to secure his place at the Olympics - but Tomlinson insists the chance of winning a second major medal is not to be sniffed at.
"When I won bronze at the Europeans in Barcelona, it was a massive moment in my career," said the Teessider. "So it seems strange to be going to a European Championships with hardly any fanfare.
"I can understand why some athletes have chosen not to compete, but I need to be out there jumping and it's great it's coming around so quickly.
"And if I can claim a second major medal to add to my collection, I certainly won't be complaining."
York's Richard Buck has also travelled to Helsinki to contest the 400m and 4x400m relay.
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