Reigning champion Richard Kilty aware of the need for improvement as Katarina Johnson-Thompson withdraws

Sports Staff
Kilty running at the 2016 European Championships: Getty

Defending champion Richard Kilty admits he must improve to retain his European 60metres title.

The 27-year-old is out to hold on to his crown at the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade this weekend.

His preparations were dogged by problems after he was disqualified at the trials in Sheffield last month for a false start - putting his title defence in doubt - before he fell ill ahead of the Birmingham Grand Prix.

Kilty races on Sunday at the Kombank Arena, with the action starting on Friday, and after winning the Grand Prix he knows he must still raise his game.

"The last thing I wanted to do was take a defeat by a British person and then go out and do well at the Europeans," said Kilty, who won in Poland in 2015.

"I wanted to make sure I defeated every European and British athlete so I could put my stamp down and no one could have any doubt and say: 'Yeah, he won the Europeans but this person should have been there'.

Pozzi is Team GB's first medal hope (Getty)

"It was a bit of a messy race but I managed to pull something out and I have to do much better this weekend.

"I feel more relaxed, the last couple of days I've spent time at home by myself and you think about it.

"The season started so well, I started with 6.57seconds in my first race on a track which was built in a shopping mall. I was thinking I was going to run a big personal best this year.

"Then I had a few ups and downs, slipping out of the blocks in France, the disqualification and then I couldn't get out of bed on the Monday and Tuesday before Birmingham."

Andrew Pozzi is the main British medal hope on the opening day in Serbia when he runs in the 60metre hurdles, while Laura Muir begins her quest for a 1500m and 3000m double in the heats.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson has however been forced to pull out of the Championships as she continues to recover from a minor hamstring strain.

The 24-year-old, who was due to compete in the long jump in Belgrade, also missed last month's indoor event in Birmingham with the problem and has withdrawn to focus her preparations on the forthcoming outdoor season.

She wrote on Instagram: "Sorry that I've had to pull out of the European Indoors. I'm healthy/happy and in full training. I just want to concentrate on the outdoor season, as originally planned.

"Shame I won't be there, as I have such fond memories of last time! But playing the long game. Good luck to all of British Athletics team.”

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