Archive for February, 2012


Andrew Pozzi arrived in the Steel City as the main attraction of the two-day championships, a new British champion, and did not let anyone down as he delivered an assured quality performance, typical of his new whereabouts on the international scene.

‘Mr Consistency’, having run his PB of 7.62 secs no less than three times this term, marked out his territory straight from the heats in a comfortable 7.72 secs and returned later to wrap up matters in a swift 7.64 secs, with only Ben Reynolds offering any sort of competition in 7.83 secs behind.

The Istanbul-bound U23 athlete has now knitted together a string of a sound eight clockings in the 7.6 secs region, as well as the seven fastest times in the UK, to demonstrate his ascendancy on the domestic front and will be hoping to move up a flight in Turkey next weekend.

Behind second-placed Reynolds, representing Ireland now, U23 season surprise Ben Kelk gave further good account of himself in 8 secs dead for third, having dipped inside that benchmark already three times this winter.

Tremayne Gilling blasts to a big PB of 6.68 secs in the men’s 60m final

The other standout performance of the championships came from a resurgent Tremayne Gilling, fully fit again, who tore down the infield straight in a big PB of 6.68 secs and into international province having equalled his recent previous best of 6.74 secs in the semifinals.

The 21-year-old sprinter virtually missed last summer but now looks firmly back on track and this could be a solid platform to mount a bid for a place in the short relay for the Olympics.

Thriving on the confidence of PB of 1:47.84 in Birmingham, promising U23 Scot Guy Learmonth embarked on a lone ride up front from the gun and despite feeling the effects of his enterprise in the late stages he still drew comfortably under 1:50 again in 1:49.29, outside his own CBP though.

An interesting character for the oncoming outdoor season with a lot of potential and could come in with a shout of an Olympic spot behind a strong trio of Joe Thomas, Andie Osagie and Mike Rimmer being established in the leading places in the mix.

Former world indoor finalist James Thie offered glimpses of his old form to edge the men’s 1500m in a decent 3:47.22 (SB) ahead of Harry Harper (3:47.65, iPB) where Phil Hurst came back late to deny Mark Mitchell the win in the 3000m in 8:09.39 to 8:09.66, the latter mounting a long run for home with 400m to go.

As close turned the men’s 400m as U23 now Jarryd Dunn narrowly fended off the challenge of Tim Burn in an indoor best of 47.95 to 48 dead secs with hurdler Niall Flannery getting third in 48.17.

Meghan Beesley edges the women’s 200m

Isobel Pooley dominated the women’s high jump over 1.84m to lay her hands on a much longed-for title and Meghan Beesley‘s strength saw her through in a competitive 200m with Jo White, setting 24.12 (SB) and 24.30 (PB) respectively.

In the men’s pole vault, Nick Crutchley cleared 5.20m to win from U20 Jax Thoirs, who equalled his own Scottish age group record of 5.10m, while ‘forgotten’ Antonio Infantino dusted off his gear to snatch the men’s 200m in an outright PB of 21.42 secs from Confidence Lawson and Andrew Wright, the latter two also posting PBs of 21.50 and 21.52 secs.

Finally, Shakira Whight landed over 13m for the first time ever in the triple jump, nailing a PB of 13.23m, and Welsh record holder Sally Peake clinched the women’s pole vault on a decent 4.20m from Sally Scott (4.00).

Nery Brenes commits a howler stepping on an inside advertisement to tumble down while clear to a remarkable time and Nigel Levine is suddenly presented with an open sight of victory that he doesn’t let go to waste in the men’s 400m

Liu Xiang convincingly holds off Dayron Robles for a second time in as many encounters this winter, setting an Asian record of 7.41 secs

New Jamaican big gun Lerone Clarke upsets Asafa Powell in a national record of 6.47 secs over 60m

The women’s long jump with Shara Proctor twice improving the UK indoor record to an eventual 6.80m while Jessica Ennis grabs an indoor best of 6.47m

A round-up of the field events featuring Holly Bleasdale, Robbie Grabarz and JJ Jegede

Gallantly though she fought, that turned out a joust British sensation Holly Bleasdale couldn’t win again an imperious Yelena Isinbayeva fashioned out of her golden past as the Russian rocketed high into her own rarefied sphere over 5m and beyond reach.

Yelena Isinbayeva rises over a new world indoor record of 5.01m to dominate the women’s pole vault, with Holly Bleasdale a battling runner-up at 4.72m

Remarkably enough, the double Olympic champion took very much two and a half years to register a new entry into the world record books, a mighty second-time 5.01m, whereas she would set new milestones with a frequency reminiscent of great Michael Phelps in swimming only a few years ago, but that one may have been the one she has celebrated more wildly than any other in her career.

Maybe it wasn’t so much for the particular world record itself, or the win come to that, but more of confirming to herself that she has still got the touch and the magic to make things happen. As Steve Cram says, there is a finite peak spell of four-five years in any athlete’s career while afterwards one can still perform at high level but with the performance graph on a gradual decline.

So has ‘Isi’ returned to her very best and can she rebuild her fallen empire around her? That remains to be seen. Let’s not forget that her previous world record, the current outdoor mark of 5.06m, was set only days after non-heighting at the World Championships in Berlin 2009 so the next challenge for her will be to lay her demons to rest and mount a major podium for the first time since Beijing.

Bleasdale did pose questions on her, though, as she was the first to rise clear of 4.72m at the first time of asking and gain an edge, having put away the opening 4.52m earlier, where Isinbayeva needed a second effort to follow through, with Cuban Yarisley Silva grinding out a third-time clearance to remain alive in the contest.

The next height was to prove the turning-point, nevertheless, as the Russian sailed impressively over a SB of 4.82m first time out to turn things round and eventually claim the win as neither of her rivals could muster a response in their remaining attempts.

From there on, it came a matter of how high she could reach on the day and had to dig deep to turn equal to a world-leading 4.92m at the death before raising the bar further to that magical 5.01m, which she overcame in total elation.

Bleasdale was pleased to come runner-up out of such a high-calibre field and range again in the 4.70m territory, still tuning her gear in the background, while earning the scalps of Silva and former world champion Anna Rogowska (POL) – again – will provide a further mental boost before gunning for a medal and glory in Istanbul.

Joe Thomas turns on a searing last 200m to come fourth out of nowhere in a high class 800m won by sensational U20 Mohammed Aman

A stacked men’s 800m was shaping up to form until red-hot favourite Adam Kszczot suddenly ran out of legs around 120m out, having asserted himself at the top of the race, to go floundering along and chasing youngster Mohammed Amman (ETH), the ‘David’ who committed mighty David Rudisha to mortality last summer, pounced on the opening to surge round and away to a convincing victory in a fast 1:45.84, a superb follow-up to his Birmingham marginal winning.

Fellow Pole Marcin Lewandowski edged out Yuriy Borzakowski in the battle for the minor podium places in 1:46.02 to 1:46.19 as they swept past a hepless Kszczot and there emerged out of virtually nowhere a storming Joe Thomas to grab fourth and nearly catch the Russian former Olympic champion in a narrow PB of 1:46.33 in a surreal finish in the dying stages.

In fact, the young Welshman was in no man’s land and isolated deep at the back of a long strung-out field of seven even with 160m to go when he suddenly snapped out of there beyond Musaeb Balla (QAT) to blast round the track and Boaz Laland (KEN), despite having to move as wide as lane three, and come home like an express train.

“What might have been..” may have crossed his mind across the finish line and the blatant truth was that he could have even won that high-calibre affair had he gone earlier or been better positioned towards the bell. But maybe he wasn’t fully aware of his own form and was surprised himself by the force of his finish in the end.

At any rate, he does know where he is lying now, suggesting a time in the low 1:45 region is well on the cards, and he could turn a real menace when he steps on the track up against the top names in Istanbul. Britain haven’t won a medal since Tom McKean‘s golden display way back in 1993 but that drought could be about to end.

Andie Osagie was slightly disappointed to come second to Timothy Kitum in 1:47.14 to 1:46.81 in the B race but the 17-year-old Kenyan is no slouch by any means holding the fifth fastest time in the world with 1:45.96 (indoor best). The Briton, eighth in the global lists on 1:46.53, is a fierce finisher himself and could be well suited to the anticipated more tactical rounds in Turkey to do plenty of damage.

Kirani James nonchalantly stamps his authority on the men’s 400m in 45.52 secs

Veteran Yamile Aldama was another Brit to illustrate her podium credentials as she landed at a big SB and UKL of 14.44m in the second round to earn a sound third spot narrowly behind top Cuban Yargelis Savigne, second at 14.47m, while Ukrainian Olha Saladuha came away with a comprehensive win way out front at a new national indoor record of 14.79m, erasing outdoor world record holder Inesa Kravets‘s previous mark of 14.67m.

Aldama is no stranger to claiming medals at top level indoors having won two silvers and a bronze at World Championships in the past, spanning 1999 to 2006, and she looks to be hitting form at the right time by moving seventh in the global season’s charts.

By stark contrast, JJ Jegede‘s last-gasp bid for selection in the long jump met with misfortune as he tore his hamstring on his very opening attempt and had to pull out of the rest of the competition, nicked by local man Michel Torneus marginally shy of 8m at 7.99m (SB) as a mere centimetre separated the top three.

The Briton was on a high following his surprise win at the AVIVA Grand Prix and was looking to carve out a further 11cm on his equal PB of 8.04m to make the cut but it wasn’t meant to be. Hopefully, his injury won’t get in the way of his preparations for the Olympics in summer as he has shown potential to put in a good show there.

Helen Clitheroe got the quality sharpener she was looking for and a proper tonic after a below par display over 3000m in the Brum in a UK-leading 4:09.70 for sixth in a close order women’s 1500m where Moroccan Btissam Lakhouad squeezed out a narrow victory over U20 Ethiopian Tizita Bogale in 4:07.86 (iPB) to 4:07.88, with Morgan Uceny (USA) third slightly behind in 4:08.06 (SB).

New Jamaican big gun Patricia Hall convincingly conquered the women’s 400m heat in 51.66 secs (indoor best) ahead of top Russian campaigner Antonina Krivoshapka, 51.81 secs, to raise her profile further while Shana Cox made rather heavy going round the tight bends of the four-lane track to post 53.48 secs ahead of U23 Emily Diamond (54.08) in a nearly all-British secondary run.

In the men’s equivalent, Grenadian teenage sensation Kirani James weathered the early storm of old-hand Chris Brown in the first 200m to pour on the pace round the second lap to a commanding victory in 45.52 secs, the latter holding on to runner-up in 46.62, to underline his red-hot favourite rank to add the global indoor title to his credit.

Anna Chicherova clears 2m for a multiple time this season

World champion Anna Chicherova (RUS) kept on a rampage in the women’s high jump to maintain a clean sheet of 2m clearances or over through the season, making it five out of five outings this winter, which she ought to round off in style in Istanbul all things equal for a most daunting string.

If the men’s keenly anticipated 60m hurdles turned a let-down, Xiang Liu crashing out on a shock false-start and Dayron Robles still struggling to assert himself over a second-string line-up in 7.66 secs, the 3000m was brimming with top quality and pace as U20 Kenyan marvel Ismail Kirui saw off the challenge of Dejen Gebremeskiel (ETH) in 7:33.55 against 7:34.14 (PB) in an enthralling battle.

Augustine Choge was not far off behind in a swift 7:34.74 for third, Caleb Ndiku was fourth in 7:35.42, Thomas Longosiwa fifth in 7:37.07, all Kenyans, and Tariku Bekele mustered just sixth in 7:37.96 as an eight-strong group of runners ducked under 7:40 for a striking depth in the event.

New British sensation Holly Bleasdale is engaging a second joust with Yelena Isinbayeva for the right to the women’s pole vault summit in the skies of Stockholm tonight after the Russian ground out a narrow victory on countback in their opening encounter in Bydgoszcz.

The Briton has shown sound consistency to string together two straight wins on home soil over identical heights of 4.70m since while her great rival has risen higher over a winning SB of 4.81m in Lievin, France, and remains unbeaten so far this term.

With the World Indoor Championships just three  weeks away, the tie shapes a weighty dress rehearsal and Bleasdale will be eyeing to restore parity and a substantial mental boost before their crucial indoor showdown. So can she make it tonight or Isinbayeva will extend her lead to two up in their encounters?

Former world champion Anna Rogowska (POL) will be lurking behind poised to pounce on any potential opening that could appear, adding quality to the affair, while Cuban Yarisley Silva and also Pole Monica Pyrek are other names to note among the field.

Apart from the women’s pole vault, the third act of the Liu Xiang vs Dayron Robles saga in the men’s sprint hurdles also takes centre stage in the Swedish arena of the XL Galan although the Chinese former Olympic champion should extend his unbeaten run this season on current form all things equal.

The limelight will be equally on awesome Anna Chicherova (RUS) who is nonchalantly pulling together non-stop clearances over 2m in the high jump on the circuit, with Olympic champion Tia Hellebaut (BE) also falling in.

Joe Thomas is pitted against a top field that involves flying Pole Adam Kszczot, a hot favourite in fearsome form of late, Mohammed Aman (ETH), the youngster who brought David Rudisha‘s unbeaten streak to a halt last summer, European champion Marcin Lewandowski (POL) and Kenyan Boaz Lalang, looking for some good scalps and hopefully get drawn into the 1:45 region fresh from a 1:46.35 PB last weekend.

Andie Osagie goes in the B race where he ought to dominate with aplomb while Helen Clitheroe is out for a quality sharpener against the likes of Morgan Uceny, Anna Pierce (USA) and Btissam Lakhouad (MAR) in the 1500m in view of Istanbul. Hannah England was also due to compete over the distance but has been a late withdrawal.

Shana Cox will be hoping to draw inside 52 secs in a nearly all-British women’s B 400m, with fast-improving Emily Diamond and Shelayna Oskan-Clarke late additions, and Yamile Aldama will be targeting a further SB is in a good quality women’s triple jump.

Last, but not least in any way, JJ Jegede is out in a stand or fall attempt to grab a last ditch qualifier for Istanbul and top out an excellent indoor campaing so far, having landed at a big equal total best of 8.04m to win in Birmingham last Saturday. His mission isn’t easy by any means, though, as he needs at least 8.15m to pull his task off.

Mo Farah shatters the European record over 2 miles but suffers defeat at the hands of seasoned campaigner Eliud Kipchoge

The eagerly anticipated for weeks British and European record over 2 miles was delivered aplenty by crowd favourite Mo Farah, who easily committed Emil Puttemans‘s (BEL) 39-year haunted mark to history at length, but some of the gloss was taken off the feat as he had to endure defeat at the hands of seasoned campaigner Eliud Kipchoge, leaving a bitter taste in his mouth.

The Kenyan former global champion (2003) is no slouch by any means, one of the most enduring top distance figures through last decade, yet is a rival that the Briton does like to beat these days as he is heading as effective favourite for Olympic glory in London.

Not that anything has necessarily changed in this respect subsequently but other top contenders might draw some confidence out of the outcome and he knows that mind games matter as well in the build-up.

The affair started in much different fashion as the world champion showed intent from the gun and got stuck into his task behind the pacemakers cruising round the track in total control of the race in every aspect, either on the clock or his main opponents.

All the same, the balance of the contest showed to shift soon after the second rabbit dropped out, towards the 1800m, as Farah appeared slightly heavy-legged – a hint of a likely increase in mileage in the background? – and could not shake the trio of Kipchoge, Tariku Bekele and Moses Kipsiro (UGA) tucked in single file behind him.

A sneaky feeling and a fear that assumed alarming shape when Bekele felt confident to burst past to the front 800m out and a slight gap crept between as Farah was apparently feeling the heat of the winding up pace and being stretched out, with Kipchoge slipping into the hole at 400m and Kipsiro following suit shorlty after to place the Briton under huge pressure.

Yet, even seeming desperately on the ropes, Farah somehow conjured up a last reserve of strength out of nowhere to surge back into the thick of things towards the bell and reignite his bid, under the roar of the home crowd, only for Kipchoge to sense his move and timely breeze to the front in a masterstroke that effectively handed him victory.

For Farah didn’t get past second-placed Bekele by the turn, forced to run wide thereon, as the Ethiopian acted as a bumper in between to soak up the impact of the Briton’s charge and allow Kipchoge to slip through the gears and away.

Gritting his teeth, the Briton made a last-gasp attempt off the final bend to eventually edge past Bekele, also holding off a fast-finishing Kipsiro, but there was no way to catch the flying Kenyan up front who crossed the line a convincing winner in a PB of 8:07.39.

Farah was rewarded for his heroics with a new European record of 8:08.07, eclipsing John Mayock‘s UK record of 8:17.06 into the bargain, through a European leading mark of a split of 7:37.40 at 3000m and will ponder a lot along with coach Alberto Salazar on how to tune his equipment in view of an anticipated fierce battle on the track of Istanbul.

But if physically turned up slightly short on the day, his spirit and commitment were in vigour and more then equal to the occasion to raise a glowing example for British athletes to emulate.

Just behind him, Kipsiro snatched third in an Ugandan record of 8:08.16 and ‘poor’ Bekele ended up fourth for all his endeavours in 8:08.27, making a PB still.

Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and Dwain Chambers will be leading a 39-strong British squad brimming with talent and promise for the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, held between 9 to 11 March, as announced by UK Athletics earlier on.

New vault sensation Holly Bleasdale, Nigel Levine, Robbie Grabarz and Tiffany Porter are among other genuine medal contenders called up on the team but Doha silver medallist Jenny Meadows has lost her race against time to make the championships, with Jeanette Kwakye apparently a late casualty as well.

The arena that will host the World Indoor Championships between 9 and 11 March

If there have been any surprises, in what must have been one of the easiest ever sessions of the selection panel, that has got to be the announcement of Christine Ohuruogu and Perri Shakes-Drayton in the women’s long relay, having not raced indoors at all this term, while Nicola Sanders has also opted to pull her weight into a strong medal-bidding team.

New UK U20 record holder Katie Byres will be blooded in top senior action in the pole vault, looking to gather priceless experience ahead of London, where Jodie Williams doubles the presence of U20s on the side as she comes in late to snatch a berth in the stead of Kwakye.

Andrew Robertson, JJ Jegede and Andrew Sutcliffe have also been provisionally picked subject to obtaining the required standard as late as February 27 – the IAAF deadline.

The British team has as follows:

MEN

60m Dwain Chambers, Andy Robertson*
400m Nigel Levine, Richard Buck
800m Joe Thomas, Andrew Osagie
1500m Lewis Moses, James Brewer
3000m Mo Farah
60mh Andy Pozzi
HJ Samson Oni, Robbie Grabarz
PV Steve Lewis, Andrew Sutcliffe*
LJ JJ Jegede*
4x400m Nigel Levine, Richard Buck, Conrad Williams, Michael Bingham, James Forman, Luke Lennon Ford

WOMEN

60m Asha Philip, Jodie Williams
400m Shana Cox, Nadine Okyere
800m Marilyn Okoro
3000m Helen Clitheroe
60mh Tiffany Porter
PV Holly Bleasdale, Katie Byres
LJ Shara Proctor
TJ Yamile Aldama
Pentathlon Jessica Ennis
4x400m Shana Cox, Nadine Okyere, Nicola Sanders, Christine Ohuruogu, Perri Shakes-Drayton, Laura Langowski

*Subject to gaining qualifying standard

A mere day after the AVIVA Grand Prix, Robbie Grabarz, Nicola Sanders and Marilyn Okoro turned up again in the arena of the NIA in Birmingham on different purposes off the back of mixed results but all left with mission accomplished and at least a big grin on their face.

Grabarz in particular barely showed any signs of easing off his searing tempo into the season, having attempted a daunting would-be UK record of 2.39m on Saturday, as he climbed over a sound 2.30m in the high jump to display impressive consistency in this new-found territory in the top tiers of the event.

That was his third outing in that region this term as he is ever growing in confidence and looks well capable of something around the 2.35-2.36m, emerging as a genuine medal contender in Istanbul.

In the women’s contest, UK Trials find Emma Perkins cleared 1.85m, her second highest ever, to convincingly beat promising U23 Isobel Pooley, who had to do with 1.80m on the day.

Along similar lines with the AVIVA Grand Prix, the 400m races turned in a flurry of fast times in both women and men highlighted by a huge SB and world indoor qualifier of 52.48 secs by Nicola Sanders, who is slowly but steadily showing glimpses of her form of old.

Employing a short racing stint as a gauge of her build-up, she recovered quickly from another trip through a rough lactic patch in 53.21 secs the previous day as her body showed to have build in a sounder insulation and better adapted to knock well over half a second off her marker.

It is going to be intriguing to see who gets the selectors nod for the second spot in the 400m behind Shana Cox in Istanbul and whether she will be interested to at least boost a competitive shaping up long relay, considerably faster than Nadine Okyere(53.01) now but two down in their encounters.

Marilyn Okoro is never short on speed and offered a good account of herself in a swift 53.33 secs a place behind, rounding nicely into form, while Laura Langowski made a big leap into uncharted territories in a large PB of 53.54 secs, her first trip under 54 secs in any surroundings.

Emily Diamond, apparently moving up  distance, followed through on the latter’s heels into the same quarters in 53.67 secs, first time inside 54 secs too, as did also U23 Micah Nottingham in 53.85 secs in clinching the other heat ahead of Shelayna Oskan-Clarke (54.48).

James Forman finishes like a train from way behind to a massive PB of 46.74 secs

On the men’s side, a total screamer arrived in the guise of U23 James Forman who destroyed his total PB in a world indoor qualifier of 46.74 secs that could sneak him a late relay place, with Luke Smallwood runner-up in a huge PB of 46.98 secs.

That amounts to seven Britons under 47 secs already this winter which augurs well for the prospects of the event in summer.

Nathan Woodward, the European 400m hurdles silver medallist, embarked on a virtual time trial over a rare 800m to set an encouraging 1:51.20 (PB) while Luke Cutts comfortably got the better of Max Eaves in the pole vault, setting 5.40m to 5.20m respectively.

Manchester Open, Sportcity

Hayley Jones showed vivid signs of a timely return to form in view of London this summer as she toured round the track of the Sportcity in 23.96 secs over 200m, a best ever under a roof.

That was sufficient to carry the former European U23 champion up to third in the UK lists this term teed up by her second fastest ever dash of 7.38 secs in the 60m earlier on.

Overseas…

Dwain Chambers endured a rather uncharacteristic off-day as he came off a well-beaten third in the men’s 60m in Ghent (International Flanders Athletic Meeting) but even more baffling was a slowish 6.70 secs on the back of a trademark ‘deposit’ of 6.64 secs in the heats, fastest of the qualifiers.

Cuban Yunier Perez, a former 400m runner, was a surprise thorough winner in a fast PB of 6.55 secs ahead of Norwegian Jaysuma Saidy Ndure, who posted 6.64 secs (SB) in second place.

The other quality display of the day came from world U20 finalist Pavel Maslak (CZE) who broke ground to a total PB of 46.14 secs over 400m, third fastest in Europe and a national indoor record. Irishman Brian Gregan took the other heat in an indoor best of 46.66 secs.

Tiffany Porter opted for some low profile action as well, apparently inserting some valuable mid-season training to sustain her campaign, to easily notch a spint/hurdle double over 60m in 7.51 and 8.03 secs respectively at the Silverston Invitational in Ann Arbor, Michigan, looking ever consistent.

Interestingly, she faced both times younger sister Cindy Offili who set 7.75 and 8.76 secs in the above mentioned races.

At the Armory in New York, hosting the MAAC Championships, Mitch Goose stretched his fabulous break-ground form into the legendary sub 4 zone as he pursued a solo 3:59.26 to win the men’s mile by over a dozen seconds.

His previous best stood at only 4:09.4 from 2008, the previous leap year that is, to take the number of Britons inside that territory up to nine.

Kenyan Leonard Korir was another notable winner of the meet in a SB of 7:51.83 over 3000m, just outside his year-old PB of 7:51.40 in Boston.

Steve Lewis and injury-troubled Kate Dennison have staged a late rally to clear qualifying heights of 5.72 and 4.52m in the pole vault in Nevers, France, and effectively secure a place apiece on the British team for Istanbul in the dying phases of the selecion spell.

At the same time, burgeoning Katie Byres rocketed high over that latter height herself to demolish her own week-old UK U20 record by a massive 15cm, her third this winter, and land into Olympic qualifying territory.

In fact, Dennison already held the required standard courtesy of her PB of 4.61m in Barcelona last summer but needed to establish her fitness and form in only her second showing since a serious injury in Daegu, following a sole 4.34m mark in Villeurbanne last month.

Yet now that clearance comes to serve her purpose well, drawing her affairs back in order, and also back up her bid for a berth in London as a further Olympic qualifier for London this summer. Operating from only 12 strides also suggests that there is a lot more to come for that matter.

Katie Byres rockets over a new UK U20 record

Byres also matched the qualifying standard to become eligible for selection for Istanbul but selectors will probably go for experience in this case, medal or top six place potential particularly stressed in the respective policy of UK Athletics.

Further, losing out to Dennison even on countback will further weigh towards that direction as the two occupied the top two spots in the women’s main pool.

Nevertheless, she emerges as a serious contender for an Olympic berth in London herself, where Britain could very likely field three athletes in the women’s pole vault for the first time ever, as she is striding fast on the blazing trail of her star of a groupmate Holly Bleasdale.

On top of that, her 4.52m saw her soar into third in the global U20 all-time lists, indoors and outdoors combined, and a major medal hopeful at the World U20 Championships this summer, as well as third in the UK all-time rankings.

There were more landmarks lined up for the Brits on show as Sally Peake climbed over a big new total Welsh record of 4.42m for fifth to erase her own outdoor figure of 4.35m in Shenzhen, China, last summer. That also betters the B Olympic standard (4.40) but cannot count as such since the selection policy specifies that B qualifiers are acceptable from April 1 onwards.

Lewis, on the other hand, had been on a bumpy trail for quite a while but he will gain plenty of confidence out of his performance, second overall off a 16-stride-run up at that, as he returns into the 5.70s territory for the first time since an identical vault in Donetsk (Ukraine) back in March 2010.

For that matter, his UK-leading figure last night has not only earned him the right to selection for Istanbul but also a firm foothold in the mix for places in London, doubling as an Olympic A qualifier, at a time that young Andrew Sutcliffe, who had a rather off-day at only 5.26m this once, is ever-growing in stature.

Luke Cutts and Max Eaves also showed a gradual return to their best at the UK Trials last weekend to help set up a very competitive and robust run-up to the ultimate showpiece, yet everyone else will have to emulate Lewis if they want a share in the dream now.

Incidentally, the men’s competition in Nevers saw European champion Renaud Lavillenie (FRA) surge to the top of global affairs through an impressive first-time clearance over 5.93m, attempting three times at 6.05m in the wake.

Full Results

http://bases.athle.com/asp.net/liste.aspx?frmbase=resultats&frmmode=1&frmespace=0&frmcompetition=101928

In the aura of anticipated pulsating end-to-end action and stirring contests on the track and the infield, there are several British matters to be settled at the AVIVA Grand Prix in Birmingham today either in terms of challenging national records or clinching late places on the British team for Istanbul incorporated in.

So let’s have a look through what could be on offer in a few hours, starting with potential bids for UK records.

Men’s 2 miles

It’s hard to see how John Mayock‘s landmark of 8:17.06, set on this very arena 10 years ago, can possibly survive the onslaught of Mo Farah, save some disaster, or Emiel Puttemans (BEL) haunted European record of 8:13.2 (1973) come to that. The world 5000m champion is in frightening shape and overflowing with pace so has got to run over those marks and even force his way inside the territory of the very great, 8:10 that is.

The finale of the meeting has been specially reserved for his venture and he will enjoy some quality company along in his quest in the shape of Eliud Kipchoge (KEN), Tariku Bekele (ETH) and Moses Kipsiro (UGA).

Jonny Mellor, Stephen Davies and Mark Mitchell get a rare opportunity to race against such calibre opposition and could seriously revise their record books either over the full distance or at 3000m.

Women’s Pole Vault

Every time Holly Bleasdale steps into an arena the UK record simply lies on the line and so should be the case today. Some late technical tweaks to her vaulting model must have bedded in a lot more by now and something around 4.90m has got to be well on the cards today.

It’s a shame that German Sielke Spiegelburg (4.77) has pulled out of the contest late as she could have provided some hot competition up to dizzy heights but hopefully former world champion Anna Rogowska could step into her stead in that regard.

A further UK record, an U20 one, could be looked for in Katie Byres but beyond the British shores in France as she will be attempting to rewrite her 4.37m from the UK Trials in Sheffield last weekend.

Women’s Long Jump

Long has endured time Susan Heanshaw‘s 6.70m, set twice in winning gold at the European Indoor Championships in 1984, and even survived by the skin of its teeth when Jo Wise tied it at the World Indoor Championships in 1997 but its time to make way may have finally come as Shara Proctor indicated through an indoor best just a couple of centimetres shy last weekend.

She has been very consistent in the 6.6m province this term, ranging therein in all her three outings, and if she clicks on the day a mark in the high 6.7m region shouldn’t be ruled out.

Men’s High Jump

Robbie Grabarz has made talk of targetting Steve Smith‘s mighty record of 2.38m but it is maybe very early for that to arrive today even though his clearance over his PB of 2.34m suggested there is more to come. Smith was jumping regularly around 2.34 to 2.37m in his time so such a platform may be required. Nevertheless, nothing can be dismissed but the World Indoor Championships look like a more likely occasion to challenge heights in that sphere.

Samson Oni is in that one too and will be eyeing to rewrite his PB of 2.31m, which he has tied this winter, against some good field involving Donald Thomas (BAH), Andra Manson (USA) and Michal Kabelka (SVK).

Women’s 3000m

Helen Clitheroe could have an outside chance of replacing Jo Pavey at the top of the UK indoor lists with the British barrier lying at 8:31.50 from Stuttgart five years ago. She has wintered superbly and goes off a substantially better starting-point of 8:45.59, set in Glasgow last month, than last year when she set her PB of 8:39.81 en route to winning the European title in Paris.

Moving over to run-offs for places in Istanbul now, so let’s see what could lie in store in the following events.

Men’s 60m

Following the withdrawals of Simeon Williamson and Mark Lewis-Francis, the battle for the second spot alongside Dwain Chambers narrows down to Andrew Robertson and Harry Aikines-Ayreety, the runner-up and third-placed at the UK Trials respectively, who face off with each other in the second heat.

It’s a tricky situation as Robertson will not only need to hold off his rival but also dip inside his week-old PB of 6.61 secs even by a mere hundredth. Otherwise, Aikines-Ayreety could snatch a place even in the event of a defeat as he holds the qualifying standard from last winter.

Asafa Powell, Lerone Clarke, Nesta Carter and Michael Frater make up a poweful Jamaican quartet to fight it out for top honours and fast times while evergreen Kim Collins will be hoping that his hamstring will last the demanding task of two fast rounds, having pulled up in both his previous two outings.

Men’s 400m

The virtual run-off will be, sadly, accommodated in the national race that kicks off the meeting’s schedule and inevitably slip outside TV coverage. UK Trials runner-up Michael Bingham lies in a similar position as Robertson in the 60m since he needs to find a time inside 46.90 secs and beat Rirhard Buck again, the latter looking more flowing but often having run into sorts of troubles in his races.

Therefore, it is going to be touch-and-go while none should rule out a late stunner by Conrad Williams who has shown very sharp in the shorter sprints this season – and Luke Lennon-Ford might spring a surprise having been shifted to the main race alonside Nigel Levine.

Men’s 1500m

Andy Baddeley is more likely opt for the 3000m by the look of his racing pattern so James Brewer has got the simple task of showing his form to be named alongside also-competing Lewis Moses and he’s capable of more than that, having displayed potential to go under 3:40.

Men’s 60m hurdles

Lawrence Clarke needs just the qualifying time to make the cut and is lying an agonising 0.03 secs off dreamland (7.65). Could he do it?

Andy Pozzi has got the chance to take his game inside 7.6 secs on the back of an amazingly consistent season in the wake of a mighty contest brewing up between hurdles heavyweights Dayron Robles (CUB) and Xiang Liu (CHN), although none should discount latest American find Kevin Craddock.

Women’s 60m

Following the withdrawal of sensational Jodie Williams (food poisoning), Asha Philip should not have much trouble clinching that second spot, provided she doesn’t slip into any unnecessary mistake, and has shown the credentials to drive even under 7.2 secs.

Laura Turner will have to run out of her skin to upset her lining up in the same heat whereas Jeanette Kwakye won’t have any such concerns and set her eyes on improving her SB of 7.20 secs from last weekend.

Women’s 400m

Normally, Nicola Sanders shouldn’t be interested in anything more than probably a relay place for Istanbul as she is employing a short indoor stint by means of a gauge of her build-up so Nadine Okyere would occupy the remaining spot behind Shana Cox regardless of the result, but until that is confirmed this duel can be also considered as a run-off.

Christian Taylor opens up by addressing a message to great Jonathan Edwards saying “Thankyou for leading the way, it’s now time for us to move up the way” in a great feature on the world champion in the triple jump by Trans World Sport.

The sky looks the limit for the young American who is riding on the confidence and the buzz of his stunning triumph in Daegu, nailing a superb 17.96m to deny Phillips Idowu a second global title on the trot, and setting his sights as far as an ‘extraterrestrial’ potential world record of 18.50m in the future.

Of course, Edwards’s overwhelming milestone of 18.29m, set in Gothenburg 1995, still stands a class apart and Taylor has got massive ground to make but he has shown the potential to reach very far. He isn’t particularly consistent through his series, more of having one or two big jumps in him in a competition, but when his technique comes together he really strikes fear around as to what he is going to achieve deep into the pit.

Edwards, incidentally, is the first to admit that Taylor has got the makings to claim his world record but hopes that doesn’t come too soon for him, also featuring in the video, while Florida-based Teddy Tamgho is on hand to offer his view on a cameo.

Personally speaking, I think he could be the main threat to Idowu’s own aspirations of wrapping up the ‘grand slam’ of titles in London, rather than the Frenchman, and the Briton will probably have to go out hard and nail a big distance from early on to place the American under pressure.

Taylor’s ambitions aren’t confined only on the infield as he intends to have a serious first season over 400m too and he is no slouch in that quarter either; in 2009, he ran a world-class 45.34 secs as an U20 and also ran a solid 45.46 secs last spring, so it is going to be really intriguing to see how fast he can go.