Besides the overhead exploits of Holly Bleasdale and Robbie Grabarz overseas on Saturday, there was some serious action on home soil that witnessed a strong return to form for ‘forgotten forces’ Simeon Williamson and Abi Oyepitan in the sprints, as well as a surprise straight world indoor qualifier for Welshman Joe Thomas in Cardiff.

SEAA Championships, Lee Valley

At the Lee Valley, Williamson shrugged off over two years in the shadows and stormed to victory and straight to the top of the UK rankings in a swift 6.64 secs in the 60m, a UK leading mark and his fastest ever opener to a season.

If there had been any questions over his fitness, he dismissed them as early as the quarterfinals of a gruelling four-round racing schedule as he eased up to a comfortable 6.70 secs across the line, following up with a 6.73 secs semifinal, to suggest he is getting back to his very best.

Moreover, that served to peel off the image of a long established ‘slow-starter’ and he means business from the dawn of the season – really, how inspirational can be the ever-growing call of a home Olympics…

Simeon Williamson eases up to a 6.70 secs quarterfinal

He didn’t have things all his own way, though, as a revamped Rion Pierre, the 2009 European U23 100m bronze medallist, gave him a good run for his money to edge himself a PB of 6.66 secs for runner-up, with Josh Swaray nicking third on a photofinish decision tied with James Ellington in an equal PB of 6.70 secs – the original coming in the penultimate round.

‘E-Bay man’ Ellington had earlier posted a marginally faster PB of 6.69 in the semifinals for a sound early outing while Leevan Yearwood missed narrowly out himself a mere hundredth behind in 6.71 secs for fifth, easily his best indoor run in four years, and European U23 400m champion Nigel Levine put in some solid speedwork in 6.76 secs, having set an identical PB of 6.74 secs in both the previous two rounds.

Furlong specialist Danny Talbot left plenty of promise by way of his easily fastest two lifetime runs in 6.73 (quarters) and 6.74 secs (semis) to hone his speed nicely in view of his 200m international assignment for Britain at Kelvin Hall on Saturday.

It turned as competitive and tight up front in the women’s affair as an Abi Oyepitan from the old edged out Laura Turner in a fast 7.31 secs to 7.33 secs respectively, missing agonisingly out on the Istanbul qualifier by a mere hundredth of a second. But, on the strength of that opener, it ought to be only a matter of time before it falls into her stride.

Incidentally, that represented the fastest time in eight years for the Athens 200m Olympic finalist and just 0.04 secs shy of her PB set that very year, showing that she could be on the way to revise her CV seriously this year – and what a fairytale comeback that would make after such a long time in no man’s land!

Oyepitan had backed that up with a 7.34 secs in the semifinals earlier on, Turner returning 7.36 secs, while Margaret Adeoye was third in the final in 7.44 secs having ranged within a mere 0.02 secs through all three rounds, including a PB of 7.43 secs in the semifinals.

Bianca Williams and 17-year-old Sophie Papps engaged in a scintillating duel in the U20 women’s dash to draw big PBs of 7.46 and 7.50 secs respectively, with Dina Asher-Smith taking the U17 version in 7.61 secs.

Over the sticks, UK Trials runner-up Gianni Frankis put his recent string of equal PBs in the flat to good use as he came within a whisker of PB in 7.76 secs for a strong start, holding off Nick Gayle who set a SB of 7.83 secs.

19-year-old Ben Kelk edged under the 8 secs benchmark for the first ever time in 7.97 secs for third ahead of Alex Al Ameen (8.05).

The women’s equivalent saw a dramatic first, of many as it seems on the way, duel between Gemma Bennett and Beijing finalist Sarah Claxton, the two more likely hopefuls to join an effectively certain-to-be-named Tiffany Porter on the British Olympic team, with the win going to the former by the narrowest of margins in 8.25 (SB) to 8.26 secs respectively.

Hayley McLean, a finalist over 400m hurdles at the World Youth Championships, was the winner of the U20 women’s race in 8.87 secs.

In the jumps, Nadia Williams set a narrow SB of 13.13m to comfortably put away the triple jump and Joe Ive was head and shoulders above anyone else with a SB of 5.30m in the men’s pole vault.

Welsh Senior/U15/U13 Championships, Cardiff

Over in Cardiff, Wales, UK indoor champion Joe Thomas impressed as he opted to embark on a lone run out front in the semifinals that saw him draw under the qualifying standard for Istanbul in a best ever indoor mark of 1:47.82 over 800m, second fastest in Europe.

His previous marker indoors was slighly slower in 1:47.87 when upsetting Andie Osagie to a rather surprise UK indoor title but towards the peak of last winter, suggesting that he could be lying on the verge of a big breakthrough.

The young Welshman is next out to represent Britain at the AVIVA International in Glasgow and on that evidence he could well be on the way to a time in the region of 1:45 further into the indoor season – watch this space!

Ryan Spencer-Jones improved considerably up to 17.87m in the shot in his second outing of the winter and his PB of 17.98m shows already shaking on the face of it.

Elsewhere, UK U23 400m hurdles champion Caryl Granville notched the sprint hurdles in 8.79 secs and a fastest for two years indoor time of 56.43 secs in the heats of the 400m, but faltered in third in a considerably slower 57.02 secs in the final behind Helen Pryer (56.41) later on.

Scottish National Open, Glasgow

Allan Scott initiated the second age of his track career on a positive note as he edged his first race since winter 2009 in a decent 7.85 secs, gaining a picture of the early whereabouts of his form. On the face of it, he could draw into the 7.6 province before winter is out which would form a solid platform for the summer.

Former Commonwealth silver medallist Chris Baillie was second in 7.91 secs to show that he is ahead of schedule on last year but wasn’t particularly happy about his display, adding in a 7.13 secs over the flat distance.

Guy Learmonth entered the U23 class in a comfortable 1:51.03 win over 800m, finishing over three seconds ahead of his closest rival.


— Full results in the respective section —

(More later…)