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.


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.