Asha Philip beats Jodie Williams twice in a short space peaking in a UK-leading 7.24 secs for an astonishing comeback.

If Charles van Commennee has said he needs two or three surprise packages to surface leading up to London, well, he has obtained more than his fill so far through the first few weeks of the new year as the enticing call of the ultimate showpiece looming large in the distance seems to fire up remarkable breakthroughs and comebacks by British athletes.

After seeing young Welshman Joe Thomas destroy Boaz Lalang (KEN) amidst a quality 800m field in Glasgow, his face must have been bubbling with glee at the news that ‘forgotten’ sprint prospect Asha Philip did not only finally shrug off the longtime effects of a horrific injury back in 2007 but even more so shot straight to the top of the UK rankings in stunning fashion.

The former World Youth champion, 21 years of age now, mustered a mere three races up to 2010, all outside 12 secs in the 100m, and wound up at a SB of 11.47 at the widely suspected Chaux-de-Fonds last summer so hardly recommended Olympic material.

But talent is never lost, it simply may demand plenty of time, persistence and patience to reignite. And Mike McFarlane’s third ‘musketeer’ has commanded deep inner resources to wait her time and pull out of the shadows into the light.

Most spectators at the Lee Valley must have had their eyes popped out at the sight of Philip pipping 2011 European Young Athlete Jodie Williams on the line as well as checking the times immediately after; a big PB of 7.30 secs, erasing her five-year-old mark of 7.35 secs, to match the UK Athletics qualifying standard for Istanbul into the bargain against a marginally slower 7.31 secs season opener for the latter.

Astonishingly enough, that turned out a mere appetizer. In the second flight of races later, to everyone’s amazement Philip blew away the challenge of her sensational groupmate to storm to a second big best on the trot in 7.24 secs, toppling Glasgow MVP Jeanette Kwakye off the British top a mere day after her winning 7.26 secs and matching Belaruse’s Yuliya Balykina as third fastest in Europe.

The competition for spots in the women’s 60m for Istanbul is getting really exciting with five sprinters lying within 0.09 secs of each other, Abi Oyepitan and Laura Turner just outside the qualifying standard, and it’s going to be very interstesting to see how it shapes up into the main part of the indoor term. But Philip looked awesome and could build on her fairytale return.

As for London, there is no individual medal contender to emerge yet though there could be solid chances of a finalist or two in the sprints; yet, the women’s short relay looks to gain a quality growing pool and could mount a challenge for silverware – with Tiffany Porter and hopefully a fully-fit Montell Douglas also playing a part.


Andy Pozzi blasted off to a stunning start into the U23 territory by means of a massive PB of 7.66 secs over the hurdles to storm straight to the summit of the UK rankings and an agonizing hundredth of a second short of the qualifier for Istanbul.

But on the evidence of this inaugural showing it ought to be a matter of time, or even simply turning up, before he sweeps it aside following up with an equally impressive 7.67 secs in the second round.

For good measure, that new marker sees him move up to number four in the UK U23 all-time indoor lists behind world record holder Colin Jackson, 1988 European silver medallist Jon Ridgeon and late Ross Baillie.

In the second flight, runner-up some way behind him was Julian Adeniran in a PB of 7.81 secs ahead of Richard Alleyne in 7.85 (SB), Ben Reynolds in 7.91 and Alex Al-Ameen, who crept under 8 secs in the opening series (SB), followed back in fourth.

Reynolds, incidentally, had made huge inroads into this previous marker, that stood way outside 8 secs, to a new Northern Irish record of 7.88 secs in his first run with U20 James Gladman improving substantially right on 8 secs sharp in second place behind.

On the other hand, European U20 champion Jack Meredith, also due to compete, pulled out late apparently owing to injury, hopefully not a serious one.

Andrew Robertson, the European U23 100m bronze medallist, picked up where he left off on his season debut to power to a substantial PB of 6.65 secs in the men’s dash, tying that time in the second round later on to build in necessary consistency as well. His new figure takes him equal second along with Glasgow winner Mark Lewis-Francis and just a hundredth behind top marker Simeon Williamson in the UK lists.

Late summer revelation Luke Fagan got off to a solid season opener of 6.73 secs, just a fraction shy of his PB, behind a revamped Leevan Yearwood (6.71) in the second round and European U20 silver medallist Adam Gemili recorded a straight effective PB of 6.72 secs in the junior races since his previous one was a handtimed 6.7 secs.

Among others, European U20 200m champion David Bolarinwa sneaked inside his two-year-old PB in 6.80 secs, shared by Jeffrey Lawal-Balogun , 17-year-old Chijindu Ujah (twice, PB) and 400m speciallist Cornard Williams to slice a good 0.04 secs off his best.

Louise Wood set two PBs of 8.32 and 8.31 secs in quick succesion over the hurdles but lost to Finn Nooralotta Neziri (8.29) the second time out while U23 James Forman ran an overall PB of 47.92 secs in the 400m and Laura Langowski took the women’s two-lapper in 54.88 secs.



Celtic Cup, Cardiff

Stephen Davies further attested a firm return to his best with a dominant display to notch the men’s 1500m in a fairly fast 3:44.19, placing a solid well over four seconds on second-placed Adam Bitchell (3:48.48). Current form indicates that a time inside 3:40 indoors ought to arrive sometime soon for the Welshman.

Also miler Mark Mitchell moved up for some early overdistance track work to come away with an easy victory in a virtual time trial of a big PB of 8:07.90 over 3000m.

In the women’s pole vault, guest Sally Peake could not line up a third Welsh indoor record on the bounce, failing three times at a would-be total mark of 4.37m, but still cleared her third best ever 4.32m to establish a sound foothold in that region.

Also guesting Sally Scott picked up a SB of 4.12m, as did rising prospect Lucy Bryan to clinch the scoring end at 4.02m.

On the men’s side, U23 Scot Gregor McLean reached his highest ever of 5.25m indoors for a walkover in the scoring competition as guest U23 Nick Crutchley also met that mark for an indoor best of his own.

Among U20s, talented Yasmin Miller took a firm hold of the women’s 60m hurdles in 8.78 secs and Bianca Williams romped to the top of the flat 60m in 7.69 secs.

Finally, Scot Noni Mordi edged a SB of 12.78m in the triple jump as she settles back into action after missing the entire last season.