IRISH sprinters selected for the European Championships starting next Wednesday in Helsinki will have some tough decisions to make.
With heats and semi-finals to negotiate, tactics are important in the early stages of any championship. But if you still don't have an Olympic 'A' standard time, do you go for broke from the start and jeopardise the chances of a European medal?
That is certainly the dilemma facing Jason Smyth (pictured above) in the 100m, and 200m runner Steven Colvert, both of whom have run times just outside the Olympic 'A' standard.
Smyth has run 10.24 so far this season, ranking him 11th of the sprinters registered for next week's games. He also has a wind-assisted 10.17 to his credit -- the London 2012 time is 10.18.
Colvert has run 20.57 to put him 16th in Europe -- two-hundreths of a second off the 20.55 he needs to make the London team. Both sprinters are guaranteed good competition. Topping the 100m rankings is France's Christophe Lemaitre on 10.04, while in the 200m, new sensation Churandy Martina of the Netherlands has run 19.94 this season.
Brian Gregan, with a time of 45.91, is 14th fastest of the 400m runners registered, with Britain's Jonathan Lavers topping the list on 45.08.
In the women's 400m, Joanna Cuddidy could snatch a medal, with her time of 51.43 this season putting her third of the runners entered behind Italy's Libania Grenot on 50.92.
Both Ciaran Mageean and Orla Drumm in the 1,500m will have to improve on their current form if they are to make it past the heats, with the Russian Kristina Khaleyeva having run a sensational 3:59.89. Paul Robinson and Rory Cheseer both go in the men's 1,500m, where Turkey's Ilham Tanui Ozbilen is favourite to win.
Ireland's best chance of a medal comes in the women's 10,000m, where European cross-country champion Fionnuala Britton's time of 31:29.22 puts her top of the rankings.
Mark Kenneally runs the men's 10,000m.
Of the younger athletes, Ben Reynolds goes in the 100m hurdles, Thomas Barr and Jason Harvey in the 400m hurdles, Jessie Barr in the women's 400m hurdles and Amy Foster in the 100m.
Men and women's 4x400m squads also travel with David Gillick, just back from an 18-month injury lay-off, the surpise anchor in the men's team. He has not qualified yet for the London games.