Archive for December, 2011

Needless to say, there was a very thin competitive schedule up around Britain over Christmas and Boxing Day although most athletes did honour the occasion by putting in morning sessions before the traditional festive table.

Christmas Eve

Former ‘chaser Jon Pepper, who is moving up to longer distances now, was an easy winner of the Brighton & Hove Parkrun 5km in 14:39, placing a good distance of 24 secs on U23 second-placed Chris Dodd, while Beijing marathon Olympian Liz Yelling took the respective event at Poole in 17 mins dead, coming second overall.

Furthermore, Scot Freya Murray, a team gold medallist at the European XC Championships in Velenje a fortnight ago on Christmas, won the Edinburgh Parkrun over the same distance in 16:44.

Mellor defeats Brownlee at Clitheroe

Liverpoolian Jon Mellor, breaking through to a big PB of 13:36.40 over 5000m on the track last summer, applied well to convincingly hold off the menacing thiathlon machine of Alistair Brownlee by a gap of five seconds at the Ribble Valley 10km on the road on Tuesday, topping off his most successful year to winning ways in 29:10 to the latter’s 29:15.

However, the twice Triathlon world champion had every reason to leave the course happy as he shattered his own PB by a full 20 secs and gained a further big mental boost gearing up to claim the Olympic title in London, along with his also exceptional brother Jonathan.

In third, slightly behind, was a surging back miler Ricky Stevenson who also bettered his PB by a dozen seconds into 29:17 while U23 Scot Derek Hawkins, a team silver medallist at the European XC Championships recently, came home some way behind in sixth in 29:48, a mere second off his best.

Milers Steve Mitchell and Chris Warburton performed decent overdistance workouts in big PBs of 30:09 and 30:37 for 10th and 18th respectively where Katrina Wooton finished top woman in the race in 33:58.

Boxing Day

In the meantime, marathon Olympic hopeful Louise Damen came top woman in a SB of 33:48 over 10km on the road at Poole in her first outing since dropping out early, just after 10km, of the Yokohama marathon in Japan late last month.

By all appearances, however, she is not going to have a crack at a winter marathon and will instead head straight to a make or break run-off against the other British girls, save already selected Paula Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi, for the remaining third Olympic spot in the London marathon in April.

(Full results in the respective section)



Williamson demolishes the 100m field (slow motion from the top of the home straight), including Chambers, at the UK World Trials in 2009

As Simeon Williamson ruled supreme over Dwain Chambers from gun to tape in a sensational 10.05 secs into a strong headwind (-1.8m/secs) in the 100m UK World Trials final three summers ago, even mighty Usain Bolt felt called on to come out and acknowledge the quality and potential threat of the Briton as a rising force on the global scene.

Nevertheless, the promise didn’t last even as far as Berlin down the same summer. Williamson picked up and injury in the run-up and was visibly limping along as he crashed out as early as the quarterfinals, screwing up his courage to lead off the British short relay quartet to a consolation of a bronze medal. That was meant to be his last notable piece of action to date.

A persisting knee injury sidelined him through the entire 2010 and last summer was sparsely seen in action at low-key meeting clocking times that, as Jon Ridgeon once put it coming back from a two-year absence, he could easily set as a youth, a SB of 10.56 secs (-0.2m/sec) in Luzern. But so many times the comeback path can prove so rough to tread.

But, at length, hard times seem to set behind him as he is on a trouble-free run in training after a long time and can see glimmers of hope in the distance again. What’s more,  to very much everyone’s delight, he looks set to stage a full scale competitive comeback into the new indoor season to dust off his sprinting and set up nicely for the summer, as he revealed to Daily Star.

On top of that, his long-term absence seems to have dented none of his confidence either as he intends to draw his game back on track by means of a place in the 100m final in London, adding substance to the words of partial training partner Bolt.

Should Williamson reignite his top rank prospects and with Chambers all but certain to regain Olympic eligibility the scene could be set for a resurgence of British sprint back into the top flight with two runners capable of dipping under 10 secs, a strength that could be added to if talented James Dasaolu can steer clear of injuries or any other problems through the summer.

Tyrone Edgar also returns to racing indoors next month fully-fit for the first time since 2009 and with Mark Lewis-Francis, Harry Aikines-Ayreety, Marlon Devonish, Christian Malcolm and Craig Pickering around the makings are there for an exciting Olympic season to build up in the sprints – and none should overlook the likes of James Ellington and Luke Fagan.

The Christmas message

I wish you a hopeful Christmas

I wish you a brave new year

All anguish, pain and sadness

Leave your heart and let your road be clear

I feel that this particular stanza from the well-known track “I believe in Father Christmas” (1975) by Greg Lake (Emerson, Lake & Palmer) encapsulates best what I would like to wish you all either regular followers or new visitors of Athletics Stargate, hoping that you all enjoyed a spectacular and happiest Christmas.

It has been a great experience and journey since I set up this place in late July and I am particularly pleased by the fast growing reputation and warm response met with in many quarters of the sport around.

After a much needed rest for a few days, I will start shaking things up around here so that the site is geared up and tweaked properly for an anticipated thrilling and pulsating season that peaks in the Olympic Games in London. I am really getting so excited about it!

Thankyou all and have a great New Year, Costas.

Here is the latest video blog released by UK Athletics that contains some very interesting glances at Brett Morse‘s routines either throwing or in the weights room, keeping us posted over his progress from his winter training camp in Sweden. Do have a look at it!

A very welcome emergence at the low-profile Crystal Palace Indoor Open on Wednesday was the sight of Jade Johnson dashing down the straight in the women’s 60m in her first competitive outing in any event in well over a year.

It has been a rough journey for the 31-year-old long jumper ever since finishing a rather surprise seventh at the Olympics in Beijing as she was battered by storms and swept by waves of adversity all the way, looking adrift, doomed and as though she could not escape her fate.

But she has managed to survive and struggle out of her woes, even shaken off a long-term adrenal fatigue syndrome, and now entertains thoughts of competing in a third Olympics in a row, more so when this time is held round her own backyard in London.

Her time of 7.87 secs is nothing to set the world alight at the moment, her first sprint race after two years (PB 7.43 secs 2004), but it’s a competitive start to get that feel back in her system while still just in late December, so she can hope to improve a lot on this when the indoor season gets underway in earnest.

Nevertheless, Johnson has got a mountain to climb to force her way into the Olympic squad in that only an A qualifying standard (6.75m), essentially a straight return to her very best form, will be enough to gain a place.

Shara Proctor already meets that standard on her PB of 6.81m in Florida last summer and the UK Athletics selection policy demands that any other athlete looking to occupy a berth out of the two left up for grabs do likewise, B qualifiers coming into play only in the event where there is no A equivalent in their discipline.

Yet, if tradition is anything to go by, the John Herbert-trained jumper has enjoyed her best form ever in Olympic campaigns and maybe her star could shine again, coming seventh both in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008. Moreover, she set PBs in both seasons reaching out to 6.80m in that former Olympic final and improving it by a mere cm at the European Cup in Annecy leading up to the latter.

For good measure, she was fourth at the World Championships in Paris in 2003, silver medallist at the Europeans in Munich in 2002 and a European U23 champion the preceding season, therefore the quality and experience is there to make that big leap back to the fore.

Part VI of our Christmas run-up, just two days off now, and it’s the turn of Commonwealth silver medallist Greg Rutherford to pick some seasonal goodies for you. So here are his two favourite songs of the season:

An 80s oldie but never-fading and very popular track the globe around, “Last Christmas” by British pop band Wham..

Also a big favourite round, here is Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is you”

I’ll throw in a last one for today, Eurythmics and “Winter wonderland”!



The World Anti-Doping Agency, most commonly referred to as WADA, have issued an amended list of banned substances for the coming year as the hours are ticking away into the last ten days of 2011, taking effect as of the New Year.

A main change on the current draw-up is that Formoterol is henceforth designated as an exception to the S3 Beta 2 agonist section and does no longer require a TUE (Therapeytic Use Exception) up to a limit of 36 micrograms per 24 hours. Within the British framework, UKADA guidelines allow a range of 24 through to 72 micrograms within the same spell.

Among other changes, Felypressin falls an exception under the S5 division of diuretics and other masking agents from now on, Beta-blockers are no longer disallowed in certain sports such as Sailing, Modern Pentathlon and Bobsleigh & Skeleton while Glycerol must be injected in quantities way above those commonly found in foodstuff and toiletries so that an athlete can provide a reverse analytical finding.

The full revised list of prohibited substances for the new year is as follows:


This is December’s video blog of Olympic hopeful Anyika Onuora as released by UK Athletics a little earlier on where you can catch a few glimpses into her track sessions, as well as some resistance and skipping drills, last month.

The Lloyd Cowan-coached sprinter has got solid hopes of making the starting line in London this summer as she is already holding the Olympic A qualifying standard courtesy of her PB of 22.93 secs set in the quarterfinals in Daegu, with sprint teenage prodigy Jodie Williams the only other Briton on an equal footing at the moment.

Asha Phillip, a former World Youth 100m champion, pays cameraman duties during much of the shooting, as well as sort of interviewing her exhausted-after-a-tough-session GB teammate at a point.

Watch this very interesting video featuring Wallace Spearmon and his group during a hard stair workout at their training base in the States.

Shot put phenomenon Jacko Gill has gone and done it again, a world age group record that is, to made himself a perfect present on the eve of his 17 birthday on Monday.

In fact, it would have been some news if he had left Auckland’s Millenium Stadium empty-handed on his current run of form that saw him hurl the senior implement out to a massive 20.38m a fortnight before, an Olympic A qualifier.

This time round, the precocious Kiwi could not quite match this distance and ‘had to do’ with a best of 20.07m on the day, still his second best ever and an extraordinary figure for an athlete of his age. But such is his ambition and hunger to reach further and further that it felt like disappointment that fired him up moving into the junior competition shortly afterwards and deliver the goods in style.

His emotions fuelled up the 5kg standard to travel high and far and almost land outside the throwing range, drawing instant exclamations of wonder around.  The score was settled in his reckoning and the measurement came up to signal a new milestone at a massive 24.45m – mission accomplished!

That represented a good 10cm improvement on his previous mark of 24.35m set during a dazzling series at the World Youth Championships last July and it’s going to be intriguing to see how long is going to last because it may hardly survive even his next outing at this rate.

As for Jacko, his birthday present wrapped-up, he headed home with the smile restored on his face and a well-earned sleep-in beckoning the following morning after quite some time. Not bad at all…