Wednesday 13 July 2016 11:51 pm

Great Britain to head to Rio Olympics with strongest ever track and field squad, says athletics chief

Medal-hunting Great Britain will head to next month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with their strongest ever track and field squad, according to athletics team leader Neil Black.

Team GB chiefs have announced an 80-strong party for the Games, which begin on 5 August, as they bid to improve on the haul of six medals won on home soil at London 2012.

Reigning Olympic champions Jessica Ennis-Hill, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford have been included in the squad, while stalwarts such as veteran long-distance runner Jo Pavey and Christine Ohuruogu are complemented by the emerging sprint talent of Dina Asher-Smith.

“This is the best prepared and arguably strongest team we have ever selected,” said Black. “We believe the world class level of performances this group can achieve will see us challenging for a number of places on the podium.

“There’s a real blend of experience and exciting talent with the likes of Olympic gold medallists Mo, Jess, Greg and Christine, selected alongside those becoming Olympians for the first time, like Dina Asher-Smith, Chris Baker, Jasmin Sawyers and Elliot Giles.

“I’m very excited by this group of athletes and what we can achieve.”

Ohuruogu, Britain’s most decorated female athlete, was handed an Olympic lifeline after being selected ahead of Anyika Onuora in the 400m, despite finishing behind the Liverpudlian at last week’s European Championships.

Pavey, who achieved the 10,000m qualifying time at the European Championships, is set to assume the status of the oldest British woman to compete at an Olympics. Rio will be the 42-year-old’s fifth Games.

Ennis-Hill, meanwhile, was one of three Super Saturday gold medallists at London 2012 and believes a successful defence of her Olympic heptathlon crown would go some way to usurping her accomplishments of four years ago.

She said: “If I was able to defend my title in Rio it will certainly be one of my greatest achievements.”