Archive for April, 2012

Jade Nicholls made a substantial step closer to earning Olympic selection as she nailed a B qualifier of 60.51m at a warm up throws meet at La Jolla, part of the OTC Pre Olympic series, which proved the foot of her own trail to her London dream.

Under the selection policy, a couple of current B standards are required to qualify in Trial events, provided there is no A holder therein, and getting the first out of the way so early into the season is a considerable burden off her shoulders and as significant a boost.

The 25-year-old got out to a slow start, however, and had to wait until the third round to find her rhythm by way of an outdoor SB of 58.92m, just 5cm shy of a potential indoor world best of 58.97m at Vaxjo (SWE), before she moved up a further chunk into qualifying territory and a useful international win at her fourth attempt.

A 58.21m fifth round served to bolster up her series as she got the better of American record holder and three-time Olympian Suzie Powell, second at a fourth-effort 59.85 on the day, into the bargain.

The event was held on the eve of the discus competition at the MtSAC Relays in Walnut, and the Brit throwers on the UKA camp in California showed up in full to go through their paces before the main assignment of the week.

In the men’s version, European U23 champion Lawrence Okoye and Daegu finalist Brett Morse placed sixth and seventh at 62.27 and 61.06m respectively for further early solid displays in a quality competition that saw three men over 66m.

Okoye recorded two more throws over the 60m line with a follow-up of 61.77m in the fifth round and an opening 60.23m while Morse started off out to 60.39m. Interestingly, that result saw the former going already 2-0 up in between them contests in the incorporated match of the battle for the British summit.

Croatian Martin Maric opened up with a world-leading 66.53m and held on to earn his spurs under the attack of Rutger Smith, who reached a second-farthest-in-the-globe 66.33 (SB) a round later, with fellow Dutchman Erik Cadee closing out the top three at a SB of 66.10m.

In the development edition, U23 Zane Duquemin continued his promising early form to mark a second-farthest ever 59.71m for fifth but Chris Scott struggled with a finger problem to end up last at 56.30m, Brasilian Ronald Juliao prevailing with a SB of 62.97m.

Away from the discus throwing sector, a revamped Brad Walker scaled an opener of 5.72m in the pole vault to bounce vigorously onto the outdoor stage following his silver medal at the World Indoors in Istanbul last month.


Initiating a new regular series drifting way down Memory Lane, let’s recall great Scot Alan Wells outleaning Cuban Silvio Leonard, one of a less than a handful sprinters to have dipped under 10 secs at the time, on the line to snatch the first British gold over 100m in the Olympics since legendary Harold Abrahams in Paris 1924, laying the ghost of 56 years without a title to rest.

The winning time did not strike so spectacular, 10.24 secs on a tailwind of 1.6m/sec, but Wells said afterwards that despite the wind reading on the gauge he felt like running into a headwind from lane eight, a notion that could be backed up by the fact that he had run an easy-looking UK record of 10.11 secs in the semifinals earlier on.

There have been mixed feelings on the road for the British girls as Gemma Steel and Charlotte Purdue battled it out for the top honours in the streets of Dublin to underline their promise whereas Paula Radcliffe suffered a serious blow to her hopes of eventually claiming that elusive Olympic medal in London as she faltered well off her target in Vienna.

On the track, Martyn Rooney opened his account to winning ways in style in Los Angeles and Abi Oyepitan evoked robust glimpses of the form that paved the way to the 200m final in Athens, with young Sophie Papps illustrating a glittering future in the women’s sprints at the Lee Valley.

OMV Half Marathon, Vienna

The much hyped “Emperor vs the Queen” virtual handicap race against great Haile Gebrselassie never really waltzed round the streets of the city of Johan Strauss as Radcliffe faded away over the back end of the half marathon course despite an encouraging start.

On a specially arranged format, the Briton was afforded a headstart of 7:52 on the differential between the lifetime bests of the two legends of distance running and showed purpose in the early stages to move past the opening 5k on schedule in 16:13.

But it turned all uphill from there on as the effects of a recent bout of bronchitis and pleurisy caught up with her and her strength started to waver in a test of mentality rather than an intended gauge of form and sharpener that reared up.

In due consideration, that was a race the world marathon record holder should have never run but she may have fallen for that false feeling of full recovery so many times when strength hasn’t actually settled back in yet, meddled with the anxiety of slipping behind her Olympic agenda.

By stark contrast, the ’emperor’ showed rejuvenated again, as if holding a charm of making, so much so that he soon released his rabbits of their duties to follow his own preferred tempo and breezed past Radcliffe slightly after the 15km mark, extending a shout of encouragement to his credit, on the way to wrapping up both contests in a time of 60.52.

Topping the women in a final time of 72:03, the slowest she has ever returned over the distance, will hardly offer any consolation for the Brit who, as Steve Cram wisely points out, will have to pick her way and races up to London very carefully henceforth, without any margin for mistakes.

SPAR Great Ireland Run, Dublin

The spell of the Olympics in London looks to work wonders on almost every department of home athletics and the spectacle of season revelation Gemma Steel and returning-to-action Charlotte Purdue pulling away from the field into a commanding British one-two in the women’s 10km race stirred life into hope of a revival over a distance that has been deep in the shades in recent years on the track.

Steel worked up a decisive four second gap on her domestic rival over the final kilometre of the course to collect the spoils in a huge best of  32:06, moving ninth in the UK all-time lists, and built on a sound run on all surfaces since autumn but Purdue won’t feel hard done by either with runner-up in a big new lifetime mark of 32:10 to slot into eleventh fastest ever herself.

Even more so when the young AFD runner came into the race still feeling a swift 15:29 long leg at the National Women’s 6-stager at Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, the previous day in her legs to show that form is falling in nicely down the way. Both times, without a doubt, indicate that the two Brits could pull the A standard of 31:45.00 on the track in the following several weeks and a place on the British team to London, an exciting prospect.

On the other hand, Helen Clitheroe endured a bad day at the office on her comeback from a training spell in Portugal as she looked rather uncomfortable midway through and trailed a long way behind the main action in fourth in 33:02 (SB), with Frenchwoman Christelle Daunay splitting the Brits in third in 32:27.

The men’s race could not bear the term contest by any means as great Kenenisa Bekele stormed to the front with the gun to force a searing pace, confident and flowing round the route, that saw him walk away with victory in a swift 27:49, a huge course record, as none survived on his tail even by the halfway mark.

A gap of almost a minute up on his nearest rival, as well as a few fleeting smiles looking round on the way, told the tale of a man back in serious business and feeling pleased with his form and fitness even though there was hardly a field to really test him over the distance. But time and races will tell whether he is back to his best once he swings onto the track next month with his showdown against Mo Farah over 5000m in Eugene looming large on the horizon.

Spaniard Ayam Lamdassam hung on to runner-up in 28:48 a mere second ahead of Italian Daniele Meucci, fourth and third behind Farah over 10000m in Barcelona, as they trailed a long way behind while Nick McCormick enjoyed another encouraging run to end up fifth in 29:04 and will take plenty of heart from a scalp like former European 5000m champion Jesus Espana.

On the occasion of the countdown into the final hundred days to London Olympics, Team GB go out into the streets of the British capital to get the sense of views and feelings on the ground in anticipation of the greatest showpiece on earth.

Tiffany Porter and Richard Kilty came out of pre-season training to highlight the action at the first weekend of April from a British perspective as they became the first athletes to obtain so-called ‘current’ A Olympic standards in the sprint hurdles and the 200m respectively, such markers counting as of the turn of the month.

Lennie Waite set a world-leading time in the women’s ‘chase and Margaret Adeoye insisted on startling people with her rate of progress among other notable performances as the bulk of action is currently being staged across the Pond. So let’s have a look around and pick up what happened.

Florida Relays, Gainsville

Tiffany Porter was swift out of her marks to breeze over the sticks to a UK-leading 12.96 secs into a slight headwind (-0.5m/sec), tying the Olympic A standard in the process, and state her case as a medal contender in London from the outset of her outdoor season.

That was effectively the best ever opener for the British captain and silver medallist in Istanbul since her 12.71 secs last year in Austin was aided by a 4.9m/sec gale, suggesting that even faster times could be on the way this summer.

Selectionwise, there has never been an issue but more of a formality to be named on the Team GB sheet as such is her authority on the domestic scene, yet it is always a nice feeling and a boost to stamp it from early on.

Bridgette Owens came second and Loreal Smith was third in 13.26 and 13.36 secs respectively behind the Briton.

Porter extended her presence at the meet leading off the Star Athletics B on the way to a third place in the women’s 4x100m, anchored by top American hurdler Kristi Castlin, in 43.88 where fellow Briton Abi Oyepitan was also out on the same leg to blow off some cobwebs and set up Pure Athletics A, containing Shalonda Solomon and Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie, to win the relay in 43.33 secs.

Istanbul dash bronze medallist Tianna Madison anchored the Boogiefast Track Club A in between in 43.75 secs while Kellie Wells and Demu Cherry were drafted in fourth-placing Star Athletics A.

Andy Turner delivered further good news for Team GB as he was quick to shrug off injury concerns by contributing the third leg to ‘Train Gang A’, led off by late-making up-his mind David Oliver, into third overall out of two heats in 55.75 secs over a rare 4x11om hurdles relay – Star Athletics A the victors in 54.30.

The European champion was feared to have suffered a recurrence of his achilles complaint earlier in the week but all Turn-er-ed out well in the end.

Oliver, for his part, made a hash of his individual race on the first day as he was caught on the wrong foot by the flying start and hurdling of Ronnie Ash to hit the last obstacle hard with his trail leg and stray deep into the adjacent lane of David Payne on the right.

The American record holder recovered his own stripe of the turf as best as he could to wind up fourth in a windy 13.43 (3.0m/sec) and went on to apologize to the Olympic silver medallist (13.47) for hindering his race, while he also opted to leave a decision late over the hurdle relay due to a slight injury sustained.

Ash held his form nicely to the tape to win in 13.10 from runner-up Dexter Faulk (13.25), who startled the world with his 7.40 secs heat over 60m hurdles at the US Indoor Trials, and third-spotted Lehann Fourie (13.31).

Briton Alex Al-Ameen edged the fourth heat in a SB of 14.03 into a slight headwind of -0.4m/sec for a useful start to his own term.

Star of the meeting turned Bershawn ‘Batman’ Jackson as he swept round the track to a huge world-leading time of 48.49 secs in the 400m hurdles and announced that he is back in serious business after crashing out of the medals in Daegu, showing evident glimpses of the form that earned him a sensational world title in Helsinki back in 2005.

Jonny Dutch was no slouch either as he followed through in second place some way behind in a swift season opener of 48.96 secs to move likewise up in the world rankings overnight before Jeshua Anderson edged him out of the runner-up spot in winning in 48.86 secs the following day in Tempe, Arizona.

European bronze medallist Martyn Bernard made a tentative inaugural outing, first since Daegu, over 2.15m for fifth in a high jump competition that saw the rise of a potential new star in 21-year-old Ricky Robertson, who soared over successive lifetime bests of 2.30 and 2.32m at the first time of asking to soar to the top of the global outdoor rankings.

The American held a previous best of 2.29m from Athens, Georgia, last May and will fancy his chances of joining the likes of world champion Jesse Williams in London.

Another athlete to raise her own stakes substantially on the international rostrum out was Octavious Freeman, turning her 20 on April 20, as she walked away with a brace of world leads in her bag out of a fabulous double in the women’s sprints within a short space, doubling as PBs as well.

The Florida-based rangy sprinter comfortably notched up the 100m in 11.10 secs (1.2m/sec) from Tiffany Townsend, second in 11.22 secs (SB), and returned later on the first day to edge out Shalonda Goodman over the furlong in 22.80 to 22.85 secs (0.5m/sec), also a PB for the latter.

Castlin was also involved in the flat sprints to come away with a double of PBs in 11.60 and 23.46 secs in the 100 and 200m respectively to make the most out of Gains-ville.

In the men’s sprints, Jeff Demps edged the men’s 100m from Trinidadian Keston Bledman in 10.11 against 10.14 secs (1.1m/sec), moving second and fourth in the global lists, while Maurice Mitchell blasted to a wind-assisted 20.08 secs over 200m (3.4m/sec) well in front of Isiah Young (20.35).

Brit Julian Thomas returned arguably his best run in years to finish third in the fourth heat in a marginally windy 21.11 secs (2.1m/sec) and could draw hope to see again the regions of his PB, a 20.85 secs in 2005, and why not even further yet.

Scot Jade Nimmo struggled in the women’s long jump, won by Shameka Marshall at a SB of 6.52m (-0.7m/sec), as she could not place a mark farther than 6.08m (-1.0m/sec) on the day, with two fouls and passing her final two efforts.


Sun Angel Classic, Tempe

Richard Kilty carried his indoor thunder into his mini outdoor premiere in sundrenched Arizona to demonstrate that he is arriving into the thick of affairs, at least as far as the European picture is concerned, as he dismissed his PBs over both sprint distances sight unseen from the off with aplomb.

Having eased to a startling 6.61 over 60m on the boards of Birmingham in winter, he employed this new-found momentum to run over a begging 10.32 from Crawley last August and draw a huge new mark of 10.23 secs (0.3m/sec) up on the scoreboard on the other end of the straight, inside the Olympic B benchmark and straight to the top of the British lists.

That proved more than enough to dominate a first heat involving world indoor triple jump champion Will Claye back in sixth (10.64) while coach Linford Christie, nursing a broken bone out of a benchpress workout, was further content to see European silver medallist Mark Lewis-Francis off to a solid opener of 10.33 secs (0.0) minutes later for a close runner-up behind U23 American Ryan Milus (10.29).

On a surge, Kilty was soon back on the track later to even more striking effect as he powered round the 200m to a second lifetime best of an Olympic A marker of 20.50 secs on the day in totally still conditions (0.0) to afford fascinating glimpses into what he could perform come summer.

Indeed, had the wind been on, say, 1.5m/sec that run could have likely ranged in the high 20.3s to suggest that the time may have come to witness a Brit in the low 20 secs since Christian Malcolm‘s exploits early last decade, and why not even inside that barrier for that matter.

That made a second win in the bag for the 22-year-old who finished comfortably ahead of American Jeremy Dodson (20.68), already a 20.38 secs (1.8m/sec) performer this season, for a further measure of the quality of his form.

Luke Lennon-Ford was also out on a double sprint workout to put together SBs of 10.93 and 21.38 (0.0) over 100 and 200m respectively, a member of the silver medal winning quartet in the long relay in Istanbul.

On the women’s side, new-look Laura Turner, much improved in alignment and dynamics, followed Kilty’s trail to fashion a dash double of her own in a UK-topping 11.47 and 23.71 (SB), both in breathless conditions (0.0), in an encouraging start.

The one to steal the impressions, nevertheless, was ever-surging Margaret Adeoye who looked so at home over a rare 400m to tour round the lap well on top in a huge PB of 53.43 secs and even claim that she hardly felt any lactic in her legs after the race.

After all, her inexaustible strength is her main asset to render her a real deal for the longer distance in future even though she looks well on the way inside 23 secs over her specialty (200m) on the evidence of her displays so far.

European indoor finalist Richard Strachan also joined in the chorus of promising displays in that first ‘Team Christie’ run-through as he battled for runner-up in a solid 46.22 secs in the men’s equivalent behind Donald Sanford, who set a new Israeli national record of 45.76 secs.

The performance of the meet arguably goes to American Jeshua Anderson who powered round over the hurdles to a global runner-up of 48.88 secs and get in between countrymen Bershawn Jackson and Jonny Dutch in the seasons early charts, with Thomas Phillips a distant sixth in 51.58 secs.

Canadian Malindi Elmore, a 4:02.64 performer way back in 2004, rekindled some of her old form as she convincingly saw off Jamaican 800m star Kenia Sinclair in 4:16.38 to 4:17.54 while her compatriot Nathan Brannen won the men’s equivalent in a brisk 3:39.85, with Brit Darren StClair still struggling down in seventh place in a SB in 1:49.60 well behind winner Andrew Ellerton (CAN, 1:48.03) in the 800m.

The bulk of the main action continued to come, rather unchacteristically, from beyond the European borders in the women’s hammer in these opening phases as Jessica Cosby narrowly missed out on Erin Gilreath‘s US record by only 16cm with a PB of 73.71m, third best in the world, and Heather Stacey virtually ensured Canada of a double representation in the event in London with a PB of her own at 72.16m, comfortably over the Olympic A standard.


Stanford Invitational, Stanford

Lennie Waite sparked her Olympic bid into life as she drew desperately shy of the B standard by a mere 0.35 secs running away with top honours in the main section over the women’s barriers, building up a winning margin of over 12 seconds.

The US-based ‘chaser clocked a new PB of 9:48.35 to brush aside her previous figure of 9:49.67 from Nivone, Belgium, last August and find herself sitting nicely atop the early global lists for a considerable confidence boost.

That said, she has definitely got to beat the A standard (9:40.00) in a potential race with Eilish McColgan for the effective remaining third spot in the event on the British team given that Barbara Parker and Hattie Archer (nee Dean) already hold a sound foothold in that region from last summer.

In the women’s 10000m, Sarah Waldron forayed deep into unknown territories to come away with a massive PB of 32:36.07 in fourth place and storm the top of the UK lists, slashing a big chunk of roughly 1:15  off her previous best from last year.

Despite the size of her improvement, her time could not quite be regarded as a surprise since the groundwork had been laid during the indoor season through runs of 15:59.93 and 16:07.04 on the American circuit.

Tom Farrell got his outdoor campaign off to swift start as he battled hard round the last 300m to a straight PB of 3:41.07 in a tight finish for the minor top three places over the men’s 1500m, polishing up his speed nicely in view of his attempt at the Olympic A marker over 5000m at Stanford at the end of April.

Jamal Aarrass (FRA), looking particularly strong in these early days, came away a convincing victor of that second of two main heats in 3:39.04 (SB), Chris Derrick edging an even more packed first section in a slower 3:41.17.

Promising U23 miler Rich Peters enjoyed a direct ride inside 14 mins in his induction into the 5000m as he set 13:56.89 to finish fourth in the second heat, Jim Walmsley on top in 13:52.87, and build in further endurance insulation but fellow Brit Ross Clarke failed to complete the distance.

Over double the distance, late bloomer Matthew Bond eradicated his lifetime best into a new mark of 29:08.69 to take the second section of the men’s 10000m with Dathan Ritzenhein prevailing in a season-warm-up 28:21.48 in the main race.

The highlight of the meet came in the shape of rising prospect Bridgetta Barrett who climbed over an equal global-leading 1.95m (SB) in the women’s high jump, having set a total best of 1.97m indoors in Fayetteville this winter.



James Alaka set out for the new season with a brace of runner-ups both times behind 19-year-old Prezel Hardy Jr in his best ever openers of 10.36 (1.0m/sec) and 20.90 secs (0.8m/sec) over 100 and 200m at the Pepsi Team Invitational in Eugene, Oregon.

The European U23 100m champion was fairly satisfied albeit he might have liked a little more out of his showing as his American rival pulled together runs of 10.32 and 20.60 secs over the respective distances for a sprint double up front.

At the Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister Classic in Los Angeles, Leevan Yearwood and U23 Tremayne Gilling opened up slightly faster yet as they registered 10.32 and 10.35 secs (0.7m/sec) for a British one-two in the 100m, comfortably sharpest starters ever to a season for both.

But also out on the track competing was veteran now Donna Fraser to set 12.22 secs in the women’s 100m as she still refuses to ‘lay down her arms’ just a few months prior to her 40th birthday, a prime example of dedication and love for the sport.

Mind you, Fraser still firmly occupies fifth position in the UK all-time lists over 400m in 49.79 secs set when slightly missing out on Katharine Merry and bronze in the Olympics in Sydney 2000, a European U20 champion way back in 1991 as well.

Finally, Tyrone Edgar continued his steady comeback to racing and form as he shaved a hundredth off his SB to 10.29 secs on a sweet tailwind of 1.6m/sec to cruise to victory in the 100m at the North Texas Invitational in Denton.

Watch American miler Lopez Lomong, a 3:32.20 PB over 1500m, relate his incredible, amazingly touching story of how he was taken captive as a kid in Sudan, escaped and fled into Kenya where he picked up running, got motivated and inspired watching Michael Johnson win and shed a tear on the podium in Altanta 1996 to subsequently make the big decision to seek his own fortune across the Atlantic, where he finally did not only made the Olympics but was also honoured to be the flag bearer of the US team in Beijing. Most definitely worth a look!

As Wallace Spearmon sheathed his guns after a searing 19.95 secs over 200m the previous weekend, Sanya Richards-Ross took up the mantle and stepped up to the start of the 100m to show her own quality and firepower very much in the pattern of the script of the “Quick and the dead” – and proved as lethal and quick on the draw.

After all, this was Texas and you can’t afford to turn anything less than that when called on to perform on split second timing.

Blast out of her blocks she did and blazed down the straight and away in a manner reminiscent of a dash speciallist, a spectacular tireless footwork all along, to cross the line in a devastating 10.89 secs a street ahead of a decent field, signalling her menacing intentions ahead of the summer.

For slightly windy (2.9m/sec) it may have been, yet that constituted the fastest run ever turned in by a female sprinter in history at the early stage of March to strike fear into the hearts of her rivals over what she could be capable of come the peak of the summer season.

Even more so when she won a thorough world indoor title over her specialty (400m) in 50.79 secs a mere three weeks earlier to show deep resources of speed available at any given time and occasion, a powerful weapon in her immense armoury.

Come to that, she looks as though she is perfecting her racing model by mastering a distance that will enable her to lay a yet sounder 200m platform going into the summer, which combined with her strength could render her an invincible challenger even for someone as gifted as Allyson Felix.

So has the time come for her to fulfil her undisputed potential and claim that elusive Olympic crown? Her major championships record nowhere near matches her prestigious feats and glittering times on the circuit so far; at the same time, the manner she dispensed with the rounds of the 400m in Istanbul and her lightning run in Austin suggest that her best may be still lying ahead of her.

In all fairness, Athens may have come a little too early for her back in 2004 while Beijing didn’t entertain the very top of her form four years later. Therefore time will tell over the next few months whether she has reached Redemption and dismisses the ghosts of the past.

Incidentally, Richard-Ross’s PB over the dash stands at 10.97 secs (-0.7m/sec) from 2007 in Shangai and ought to be due for substantial revision by the look of her early form.

Porscha Lucas came well behind in second despite a 11.11 secs clocking, a hundredth faster than her lifetime best, and Chastity Riggien was third in 11.23 secs.

Astonishingly enough at this phase, Sanya’s sizzling 10.89 secs dash merely sufficed to steal a March on young compatriot Kimberlyn Duncan who minutes earlier had stormed to an as astounding 10.94 secs on an identical tailwind of 3.0m/sec to command a University/College final of even greater depth in style, holding off Chelsea Hayes and Dominigue Duncan who set 11.09 and 11.15 secs respectively.

That was a robust early statement by the 20-year-old, holding PBs of 11.09 and 22.24 secs from last season, to underline her credentials as a potential contender for a berth on the US team in what should be a sensational affair at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene. Hayes, nonetheless, was the fastest out of the heats in a SB and global-leading 11.20 (1.5m/sec) the previous day with Duncan at 11.26 (1.3m/sec) and her namesake Dominique in 11.30 secs (2.0m/sec).

Sanya’s part in the meeting was not over yet and after a short breather she tripped over to the peak of the home straight to pick up the baton from Shelise Williams and  anchor the Hart Of Texas to a convincing win in a swift 3:27.03 in the Invitational 4x400m women’s relay, wrapping up an superb day’s work in style.

Runner-ups were the TG Elite, led off by Istanbul’s bronze medallist Natasha Hastings, in 3:29.23 and star-studded Sprinting Speed, featuring Jessica Beard, Francena McCorory and Alexandria Anderson, were third in 3:29.86.

Jeremy Wariner anchors in a solid 44.58 secs in the main 4x400m race

In the men’s equivalent, Jeremy Wariner lined up further evidence that he is firmly back on track as he turned on a solid 44.58 secs anchor leg to clinch victory for the Central TX All Stars in a time of 3:01.54, with Tabarie Henry deployed in the second leg.

The 2004 Olympic champion came under an ambitious attack up the back straight by Jeremy Davis and Leroy Dixon, tying up Next Level Athletics and HP All Stars, but held his ground well on the inside and when he engaged higher gear coming off the top bend he pulled away nonchalantly to carve out a near 10m gap on his rivals.

Meanwhile, Spearmon, for his part, along with groupmate and friend Darvis Patton have opted to return back to some serious pre-season training after their March exploits but did come out to stretch their legs over the first half of the men’s Invitational 4x100m that also involved a revamped Tyrone Edgar round the top bend, romping to a comfortable win in 38.64 secs.

They might have been a little astounded, all the same, to be bettered in terms of time by a less glamorous side of Auburn comprising Marcus Rowland, Harry Adams, Michael de Haven and Keenan Brock who combined fabulously round the track to a world-leading 38.30 secs earlier on in the university race, beating Texas A&M into second place in 38.84 secs.

In the short dash, Canadian Aaron Brown nicked the top of the podium on a photofinish verdict from Cordero Gray as they shared a windy 10.09 secs (2.9m/sec) in the invitational contest but it was sprinter-cum-footballer Jeff Demps who delivered the fastest time of the day as he dominated the university finals in an also windy 10.01 secs (2.9m/sec).

Chris Thomas edged the 110m hurdles over Trinidadian namesake Mikel by a shade as they both set PBs of 13.45 and 13.48 secs in maybe the only race to be held in legal conditions (1.9m/sec), Barrett Nugent prevailing in a wind-assisted 13.37 (2.9m/sec) in the university version, where Nicole Denby caught the attention through a windy 12.78 secs to earn top honours in the women’s hurdles.

The women’s high jump enjoys a revival in exciting times in the States following Chaunte Howard-Lowe‘s major upset over Anna Chicherova (RUS) in Istanbul, Brigitta Barrett emerging as a new star from the ranks, and veteran Amy Acuff pulled her weight in saliently over a straight world-topping 1.95m on her very return to action after three years.

Turning her 37 on April 14, the American will be looking to make a fourth Olympia on the trot having narrowly missed out on bronze in Athens in 2004, fourth at 1.99m, and getting the Olympic A standard out of the way was a best possible start.

Let’s make our usual round to pick up some interesting results from British athletes both on the early domestic scene and overseas, mainly from across the Pond, as we are turning into the top bend of the qualification race to the Olympics in London, which equates to the spring pre-season stage.


Andy Vernon and Julia Bleasdale put in solid displays to finish in creditable spots in the top ten of the men and women’s 5K races at the noted annual road event held in Carlsbad, California, on Sunday showing that they are building up nicely towards the summer.

World Student Games champion Vernon came home ninth in a best of 13:40 on the road, first time inside 14 mins, losing out on a higher placing to 3:31 Aussie miler Ryan Gregson and US-based Kenyan Haron Lagat, both credited with 13:39, in the closing stages and will take plenty of heart from his outing in windy conditions in his pursuing of a necessary Olympic A standard, either in the 5000 or the 10000m on the track.

Erratic young Ethiopian Dejen Gebremeskel turned his fiercesome kick to awesome account this once as he streaked away to a commanding victory late in the contest in 13:11, fourth fastest all-time, after seasoned campaigner and former global 5000m champion Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) did all the ‘dirty work’ running hard from the front into the wind in an identical pattern to last year’s edition.

So much so that they clocked almost identical times save the Kenyan was eventually pipped into third by rising Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet, just 17, as both were awarded with an identical 13:14, the latter emerging as a top prospect for the forthcoming World U20 Championships in Barcelona.

Tariku Bekele, the brother of great Kenenisa, followed in fourth in 13:16 to add further gloss and depth to the race while Irishman Alistair Cragg set a national best of 13:26 back in sixth place.

Having already run close to her PB in 15:45.90 in Adelaide, Australia, Bleasdale climbed up a notch to come a splendid sixth in 15:47 and might entertain some hope that she could sail near the A standard of 15:20 when the season picks up.

Double Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH) ran away with affairs in 15:01 as she placed a solid dozen seconds on compatriot runner-up Werknesh Kidane (15:13), with Kenyan Pauline Korikwiang spoiling an Ethiopian full podium in third in 15:22.


At the Texas Relays in Austin, Chris Gowell savoured maybe the best moment of his career so far as he rose a comfortable winner of the Jerry Thompson Mile in a big PB of 4:01.08 to erase his previous best of 4:03.93, set in Cwmbran (Wales) in August 2010.

The 26-year-old crossed the line nearly two seconds ahead of second-placed Kenyan Jackson Kivuva where Kevin Ondrasek was a close third in 4:03.04.

Gowell also competed over 800m two days earlier to take fifth in a season starter of 1:49.79 amidst a close order for the minor spots as American miler Leo Manzano struck out down the home straight a convincing victor in a new meeting record of 1:47.65, implying a likely shift of weight on the longer distance for the Brit.

‘chaser Lennie Waite got the same place along the finishing line of the women’s metric mile in a SB of 4:19.44 in a follow-up to an early world-leading 9:55.91 in Houston, the capital of Texas, a week earlier. That is her fastest ever opener over the barriers for good measure.

Having got off to a solid 10.30 in Arlington the previous weekend, Tyrone Edgar combined with Wallace Spearmon and Darvis Patton, deployed in the opening two legs, over the unfamiliar top bend to help ‘Speed United’ win the Invitational 4x100m relay with ease in 38.64 although, surprisingly, the fastest run of the day arrived in the guise of Auburn in a swift 38.30 in the Clyde Littlefield race earlier in the program.

After hard times on the sidelines for a couple of years, the former European Cup winner will be content to be putting together solid back-on-back races and feel competitive again at this stage.

Former European U20 silver medallist Amy Harris was eighth in the long jump on a windy 6.40m (4.0m/sec), with a legal 6.23m too (2.0m/sec), but promising U23 jumper Lorraine Ugen apparently suffered a setback as she just touched at 4.43m in her opening effort and called it a day after passing the second.

Hopefully, there is nothing serious with her and she could build on a slightly windy 6.83m recently that has effectively drawn her into striking distance of the A qualifying standard in the long jump for London (6.75m).

Chelsea Hayes was the winner at 6.86m aided by a strong tailwind of 5.0m/sec and Tori Bowie followed with an also very windy 6.77m (4.6m/sec).

UK long jump champion Julian Reid is also a decent hand in the triple jump, a potential B plan for Olympic selection if the A doesn’t come off, and came out with a slightly windy but encouraging 16.76m (2.6m/sec), with a legal 16.24m (1.8m/sec) put down as well, for a considerable improvement on his indoor 16.35m this season.

Early in the four-day meeting, Joe Wade ran a UK-topping 8:58.29 for fourth immediately followed a slot behind by his twin brother Tom in 9:01.40 (SB) in the men’s 3000m steeplechase with Luis Orta a comfortable winner in 8:50.72 up front.


Matt Graham drew in between the Wade brothers to number two in the early UK lists as he continued his gradual return to form in a SB of 9:00.93 to win over the barriers at the Oliver Nikoloff Invitational in Cincinatti, Ohio, a couple of days later.

The U23 Scot caught the eye when he dropped down to a sound 8:51.48 as an U20 two seasons ago but languished on the verge of 9 minutes for the entire last summer, yet it looks a matter of time before he dips back inside that benchmark again. Incidentally, he has won both his outings in his specialty this term.

James Mee moved fourth in the British charts courtesy of a massive PB of 9:03.88 for fourth at the Raleigh Relays in Raleigh, North Carolina, where Tina Muir kept on improving by heaps through a second huge PB on the trot in 16:10.55 in third over the women’s 5000m.

Lee Carey returned a big PB of his own in 14:08.68, also third, in the men’s version and Hannah Brooks won over the same distance in a SB of 16:20.05 at the UNF Invitational in Jacksonville, Florida.


The seventh stage was ‘all the money’ at the Northern Road Relays in Liverpool as in-form Jonny Mellor (Liverpool), fresh from a fabulous debut of 62:59 over the half marathon in New York, and Nick McCormick (Morpeth) produced the two fastest long-leg times in 21:43 and 21:47 respectively with James Wilkinson (Leeds) also involved in 22:04.

Niall Brooks (Sale) was the fastest over the short leg of the course in 11:07 to indicate that he is getting back on track after a shortened stuttering drive last summer.

Liverpool were runaway winners ahead of Salford and Morpeth.

Elle Baker (Stockport) and Charlene Thomas (Wakefield) handed in the two swiftest legs with a single second separating their runs in 12:25 and 12:26, second and sixth stage respectively, as Rotherham prevailed in women, followed by Wakefield and Salford.



Annabel Gummow, the European U20 bronze medallist over 5000m, turned a cut or two above anyone else as she delivered the fastest leg by a long way in 15:50 at the Midland Road Relays in Birmingham. However, her team, Bristol & West AC, could not get anywhere near the top two outfits of Westbury and Birchfield Harriers for the top honours.

Bristol did win, though, the men’s race ahead of Tipton and Birchfield Harriers.



“Fast girls” is a British athletics-oriented film that is about to hit the theatres soon, shot mainly in locations around London like Crystal Palace during the first half of the winter, and its official trailer has come out to offer a few glimpses of the action and plot therein.

To be honest, it strikes me a little like a track & field version of “Bend it like Beckham”, featuring a very young Keira Knightley then, where I wouldn’t expect it to reach the calibre of the likes of “Chariots of fire”. But it should be fun to watch nevertheless!

Teenage prodigy Delano Williams blew away the field  over the 200m final to wrap up a sensational sprint double at the ISSA/Grace Kennedy Championships in Kingston, Jamaica, then went on to reveal that he has obtained a British passport that enables him to represent Britain henceforth.

The 18-year-old hails from the British dependent islands of Turks & Caicos in the Caribbean, which have no NOC, so applied to represent the Great Albion instead and earn the right to compete in the London Olympics, thereby an identical case to Istanbul bronze medallist Shara Proctor who has switched allegiance from Anguilla.

Williams will still have to be cleared first to become eligible for the British team for London but that shouldn’t normally take that much time while he already holds the A qualifying standard for the 200m with 20.53 secs from earlier this winter, which would render him as a genuine contender for an individual berth.

At the same time, he is also a very competent quarter-miler of a PB of 45.7 secs, albeit not yet registered in the IAAF statistics, that could set him up nicely to turn a valuable asset for the men’s 4x400m relay in the future as well.

On Friday evening, he accomplished the first part of his campaign as recovered from a poor start to come through strong in the later stages and snatch the 100m title at the death in a PB of 10.37 (-0.5m/sec) from Jazeel Murphy, runner-up in 10.39.

A thriller as the shorter dash turned out, his authority was never to be questioned over the 200m the following day. He swept smoothly round the bend to come into the home straight well in command and built on powerfully thereon all the way to carve out huge daylight on the opposition, crossing the line almost half a second clear in 21.18 to 21.67 secs.

His time may not make headlines at first sight but seen against a -3.3m/sec adverse gale blowing into his face that translates into something in the 20.4 secs region or thereabouts, having eased through the semifinals in 20.75 secs – now that is something to turn heads!

But what really mattered, as he beamed during his post-race interview, was that both golds were buried and dusted in the bag and a giant step was taken towards those precious Olympics in London for a magical couple of days.

Incidentally, Jamaica-based Briton Nethanee Mitchell-Blake scrambled through to sneak bronze in 21.72 secs in that latter final after a PB of 21.49 through the rounds earlier on, completing a virtual British double presence on the podium.