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.

Results

http://www.deltatiming.com/results/events_byschedule.aspx?yf=2012&mf=2012-florida-relays

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.

Results

http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/asu/sports/c-track/auto_pdf/2011-12/box_score/stats_20120408aaa.pdf

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.

Results

http://www.rtspt.com/events/stanford/invite2012/

Elsewhere…

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.

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