Category: Domestic Events

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.




Tony Whiteman evoked glimpses of his glory days, a 3:32.34 miler in his heyday in the late 90s, as he led home by example a field of years his junior in a fabulous 3:44.12 over the men’s 1500m at the McCain’s City Challange second and final leg, a world V40 best as a matter of fact.

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Retired after failing to make Britain’s Olympic team for Athens 2004, the former Commonwealth bronze medallist has returned to racing over the last couple of years improving all along the way, in so much as he could start pondering whether to have a crack even at the UK Olympic Trials in summer.

In fact, his winning time at the Lee Valley was his fastest indoors in a long 12 years and could hint at a potential sub 3:40 clocking outdoors to enhance that prospect.

Second behind him came Ross Murray in 3:46.16, his fastest in two years in any environment, as he is hauling up a comeback trail having missed the entire track season last summer.

The two shifted stints at the head for the bulk of the race before Whiteman took off 400m out to pull away to a commanding win.

Samson Oni ironed out a few last details in his jumping over a winning 2.21m in the high jump before flying out to Istanbul for the World Indoor Championships as U23 Tremayne Gilling comfortably extended his winning streak lately in 6.74 secs, third time this winter, in the men’s dash.

In the men’s pole vault, U23 Nick Crutchley cleared a SB of 5.31m to upset favourite Luke Cutts, tied at 5.21m in second with Gregor McLean, to go sixth in the UK lists while fourth-placed Jax Thoirs revised once more the Scottish U20 record to 5.11m, bettering his recent previous figure by a cm.

The find of the meet was probably 22-year-old Michael Puplampu who broke ground to 16.04m in the men’s triple jump, a total PB by a full 40cm, and Nadia Williams got the better of Yasmine Regis on the women’s side, setting 13.44 and 13.09m respectively.

Annabelle Lewis sneaked inside new territory as she set a PB of 7.39 secs to blow off the opposition of Louise Bloor and Marilyn Nwawulor, 7.54 and 7.57 secs, in the women’s 60m where Ashley Helshby narrowly held off Commonwealth heptathlon champion Louise Hazell over the sticks in a PB of 8.33 to a SB of 8.35 secs, with Serita Solomon third in close order in a PB of her own in 8.37 secs.

Elsewhere around the arena, Emma Perkins outjumped young Isobel Pooley once again in the high jump even on countback at 1.80m, precocious U20 Clovis Asong got the men’s 400m in 48.30 secs and Scott Rider put a SB of 18.43m to beat Ryan Spencer-Jones in the shot, with the latter taking his PB up to 18.10m.


‘Young lions’ Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Adam Gemili sparkled at the gathering of the English junior age groups in Birmingham as they lined up impressive strings of displays across the weekend, with the former laying the foundations of a big breakthrough even into the realms of the Olympics for London this season.

KTJ started off her busy schedule to a vigorous winning 6.30m in the long jump on the first day, just 9cm short of her recent UK indoor U20 record, before coming back on Sunday to rise above a total PB of 1.85m in her first high jump outing this term, a discipline carrying great weight in multi-events.

But there was still a lot more left to come from her as she settled into her blocks at the far end of the infield straight next to breeze to a swift 8.53 secs (SB) over the sticks and qualify easily fastest out of the heats.

A hat-trick of golds was eventually foiled by highly-rated hurdle speciallist Yasmin Miller, just 16, who rose to the challenge to snatch victory in a fabulous PB of 8.45 secs but the Merseysider had yet every reason to leave the arena happy, wrapping up her weekend showing in a second PB of 8.48 secs.

European U20 silver medallist Gemili didn’t turn up any short in quality either as he stormed to a massive PB of 6.68 over the dash and up to seventh in the British all-time junior rankings over the distance, coming away with a comprehensive win in the process.

And he completed an awesome sprint double the following day over the rarer 200m in a brisk indoor best of 21.20 secs to demonstrate plenty of potential and promise in view of the World U20 Championships this summer, although he may have to face off with the challenge of Delano Williams on the longer distance even on the domestic front.

An intriguing character to mark out for the future is Jordan Bransberg, turning just 17 last month, who swept to a sterling 1:50.31 in comfortably claiming the U20 men’s 800m and fall into fourth place in the indoor UK all-time lists, with a good two more seasons available to knock David Sharpe‘s dusted long-standing milestone of 1:48.53 off its pedestral.

Ben Waterman was second-placed in an interesting 1:51.10, an outright PB.

The headliner of the championships was, however, World & European U20 sprint princess Jodie Williams who nevertheless still looked again somewhat shy of her best despite dominating the women’s U20 dash in a standard 7.47 secs, a fortnight before she engages senior action again on the turf of Istanbul.

Apparently, she has been still more on an speed endurance rather than sheer speed pattern trainingwise, her sights fixed on a massive summer ahead, which has taken some of the bite out of her sprinting at the moment.

Stefi Wilson, 17, was second in a PB of 7.61 secs while Dina Asher-Smith shone by means of a smooth sprint double of 7.56 secs (PB) and 24.61 (iPB) in the U17 women’s 60 and 200m respectively.

Another Liverpoolian to strike promising ahead of the summer was 17-year-old Alex Boyce as he powered round the track to a total PB of 47.82 secs in notching the U20 men’s 400m, having pledged a fast time in an easy 48.17 secs from the heats.

He may have not made the final of the World Youths last summer but he is definitely laying a solid springboard to bid for a top eight placing at the immediately next tier on this evidence.

Some U17 names to show potential were high jumper Chris Kandu over a PB of 2.08m, training under John Herbert, and Jermaine Hamilton in a scintillating 21.73 secs (PB) over 200m, having bagged the 60m title in also a PB of 6.94.

In the women’s shot, Sophie McKinna was all dominant at 14.82m and World Youth bronze medallist Lucy Bryan tucked away the U20 women’s pole vault at 3.80m.

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.

After a relatively slow start on Saturday, Jessica Ennis, Dwain Chambers, Holly Bleasdale and a searing Joe Thomas injected plenty of pace and quality for the UK Trials to finish full of running at the end of the second day, moulding a strong core to the British team for Istanbul that will be added to around after the Grand Prix in Birmingham.

Ennis enjoyed a superb three-stage weekend to send a strong message to Tatyana Chernova as concerns her menacing intentions ahead of their showdown in the pentathlon in the Turkish capital, even if she eventually skipped the long jump late – interestingly, the only event that the Russian holds an advantage out of the five.

Ennis sweeps over the hurdles to an equal PB of 7.95 secs

She didn’t have things all her own way, though, as she found herself in a tight corner from a very unexpected source in the high jump when an inspired Emma Perkins cleared a total PB of 1.89m first time, her third of the day improving from 1.83m, but displayed once again her vast wealth of mental resources to dig deep and go clear at the death to remain alive.

In a Mancherster United-esque manner, she completed the turnround next time out on the runway to climb over a UK-leading 1.91m, snatching the win, and return to a territory that could prove crucial in the battle for gold in the arena of London in summer.

But the emergence of Perkins, along with 19-year-old Isobel Pooley who couldn’t match the heights of the previous weekend (1.88), means that things are starting stirring again in an event that that has been deep in the shadows in recent years – and both are going to have still an extra chance to make the final cut.

Next stop was the shot put ring where Ennis opened up with two SBs of 14.07 and 14.09 on the spin to sustain her pace as Eden Francis comfortably prevailed at a stadium record of 16.72m, not far off her recent PB of 16.92.

Yet, she reserved her best act over the sticks back on the second day as she pulled together two classy races of 7.95 secs apiece in quick succession, equalling her PB as many times, and wrap up a fabulous weekend and her message in style, leaving the arena with a big smile on her face as mission was accomplished in supreme fashion.

Which, in turn, would have topped the European lists in the discipline but for Tiffany Porter‘s 7.93 secs for runner-up at th Milrose Games in New York the previous night to offer a further measure of the brilliance of her performance.

Gemma Bennett could not built on a promising semifinal of 8.19 to scrape second just ahead of fast improving Louise Wood by a mere hundredth, the latter tying her new PB of 8.23 secs set in the semifinals, while Beijing finalist Sarah Claxton didn not show up in the final.

Chambers holds off Robertson to the title in the men’s 60m

Dwain Chambers demonstrated that he still remains the top sprint force in the country as he seared to a swift UK-leading 6.58 secs down the infield straight to retain his title in the 60m, fairly comfortably from a stout and very competitive Andrew Robertson who stepped up his game awesomely in these championships.

Even more importantly, maybe, the reigning world champion executed a superb race as he got off to strong start out of his blocks and made a sweet slick transition from the pick-up into the drive, something he sort of missed for a while, to suggest that he is going to be a force to be reckoned with in Istanbul, with a few aces up his sleeve.

As fortune would have it, the CAS verdict over BOA’s Olympic by-law appeal comes out on the very next day after the end of the world indoor championships and what a bonus that would be if he could regain eligibility to compete in London on top of, hopefully gold, medal.

But for the time being, Chambers refuses to get carried away into anything and keeps on the grindstone so that he is poised to swing into action if the doors open to him.

Runner-up Robertson, the European U23 100m bronze medallist, built on a very consistent upward trend this season to hand Chambers a race for his money and never relinguished his efforts for a moment to cross the line in a big PB of 6.61 secs, eclipsing a 6.64 secs run only earlier on in the semifinals.

He has brought himself into a very good position and is going to come in with as good a shout as anyone at that coveted second spot in an effective run-off in Birmingham this weekend, missing out on the qualifying standard by an agonizing hundredth of a second.

The anticipated renewed clash between Chambers and Simeon Williamson failed to materialize for a second weekend in a row as the latter never recovered from a poor start to crash out of the semifinals, taking some gloss off the final, while Mark Lewis-Francis couldn’t do himself any justice on the back of a fresh slight hamstring injury to finish well down the line.

Harry Aikines-Ayreety didn’t really sparkle but finally worked into the medals in a SB of 6.65 secs ahead of Christian Malcolm who improved substantially through the rounds to a big SB of 6.68 secs, with young Greg Cackett making his first major domestic final in an equal PB of 6.69 secs.

The women’s version seemed to be heading to a mouth-watering showdown between a menacing Asha Philip, off to a 7.33 secs in the heats, and Jeanette Kwakye but was dealt a huge blow when the former got disqualified on a false-start in the semifinals as the two had shown a gear apart from the rest.

From there on, the Beijing dash finalist had little trouble dominating the final from the gun in a SB and UK-leading 7.20 secs to book her place on the British team nonchalantly where not-quite-looking-herself Jodie Williams crept under the qualifying benchmark in a SB of 7.29 secs for silver and Laura Turner got third in 7.31 secs.

Former Olympic 200m finalist Abi Oyepitan endured a disappointing last eight showing to trail behind a distant forth in 7.42 after a promising semifinal in a SB and equal qualifying standard of 7.30 secs, with Louise Bloor and U20 Sophie Papps running big PBs of 7.43 and 7.49 secs at that stage respectively.

It is going to go down to a make or break run-off for very much four girls in Birmingham although Philip ought to run away with that second spot on offer, save a second disaster, on current form.

A peek at the field events featuring Holly Bleasdale, Robbie Grabarz and Shara Proctor among others

Holly Bleasdale has really spoilt houses around Britain in so far as that every time she doesn’t deliver a new UK record there is a slight disappointment creeping around. She did lay down new markers, though, in that she set a new championships and venue landmark of 4.70m at the second attempt to demonstrate that she has settled well into world class territory and tackles such marks with aplomb.

Her subsequent crack at a potential British milestone of 4.89m may have not looked that convincing but it is more about some late technical tweaks bedding in before she clears that barrier and moves further beyond.

In this regard, however, spectators didn’t leave empty-handed as swiftly-rising training partner Katie Byres deputised to sneak over a new UK U20 of 4.37m, adding a centimetre on her own recent previous figure, and by the look of things she could be well on the way to clinch a place on Britain’s Olympic squad in summer.

Katie Byres vaults a new UK U20 record of 4.37m

She went on to attempt much higher at 4.52m later but it wasn’t to be on the day where Welsh record holder Sally Peake rounded out the podium at a decent 4.27m.

The highly anticipated men’s high jump never took off, maybe there being no reason to as they may have opted to save for greater battles looming ahead, and Samson Oni edged out Robbie Grabarz for the British indoor title over a decent 2.26 to 2.23m as both have effectively clinched their places for Istanbul.

But plenty of fireworks were worked out on the track as young Welshman Joe Thomas offered once again a glimpse of what is to come in a sizzling second 400m of 52.49 secs to sneak a fourth indoor best of 1:47.26 on the trot, suggesting that a big time lies in the works and quite possibly deep into the 1:45 territory as things look.

A time that may not take long to arrive as he is lining up in an anticipated fast race at the Grand Prix in Birmingham on Saturday and it is going to be intriguing to see what the clock will read for him, coming up against UK top half-miler last summer Andie Osagie besides.

Scot Guy Learmonth was runner-up a long way behind in 1:49.63 and could nick inside the qualifying marker too followed in third by former UK indoor champion Ed Aston in 1:49.73.

In the women’s edition, Marilyn ‘Maz’ Okoro embarked on a customary cobweb burnout opener through a searing solo 58.21 secs halfway through but the audacious pace caught up with her in the late stages to reduce her time to a final 2:04.01, ahead of Tara Bird (2:05.00, SB) and Charlotte Best (2:05.25, iPB). Next time out ought to be much faster though!

Andy Pozzi kept on pounding out runs in the low 7.6 secs region with astonishing consistency and precision as he saw off Gianni Frankis to a convincing British title, as well as securing his own place on the team, in an equal PB of 7.62 secs, having ranged narrowly shy in 7.63 secs in the heats earlier on.

The latter, however, could have run considerably faster than his 7.72 secs but for a hamstring tear that put paid to his indoor season, whereas Lawrence Clarke fell prey to a false-start to knock plenty of the suspense off the affair, with Julian Adeniran holding on to third in 7.84 secs after running a full tenth faster in the heats (PB).

Nicola Sanders survived by the skin of her teeth as a fastest loser out of the women’s 400m heats as her lack of speedwork, turning up merely to sample her preparations, saw her hit a ‘lactic’ wall down the home straight, slipping from first down to fourth in 55.22 secs in the fourth run.

But she improved substantially to qualify by right through the semis in 53.71 some way behind Shana Cox‘s 52.89 secs and gave an even better account of herself as she edged under the qualifying standard in 53.11 (SB) for third as her rival stamped her authority on the final to comfortably prevail in a UK-leading 52.38 secs, with Nadine Okyere slotting in between in second in an indoor PB of 53.01 secs.

In fact, the last could have grabbed herself an individual place for Turkey next month while it remains to be seen whether Sanders could be interested to contribute in the relay.

Rather than an anticipated pitched battle, the men’s equivalent turned a one-man show as Nigel Levine employed his aggressive front-run tactics to awesome advantage to claim a far easier title than he would have thought in 46.58 secs (SB), sparing plenty of daylight on the field by roughly half a second.

Although the most impressive in the heats, Richard Buck was caught up in a large group fight and found a way round only at the end to edge bronze in a slowish 47.10 behind David Bingham, who snatched second just ahead in 47.07 secs in a rare indoor appearance.

Hannah England confirmed her favourite status in winning convincingly in 9:06.04 (SB) over the women’s 3000m, the main challenge coming surprisingly from second-placed Katrina Wooton (9:06.99, SB) rather than Gemma Steel, while Margaret Adeoye carried her Glasgwegian thunder to stun the EIS by way of a huge PB of 23.36 secs in the 200m, having run an intermediate best of 23.50 in the heats.

There was plenty of interest in the pit as Yamile Aldama came away with top honours at a SB of 14.09m in the triple jump and Shara Proctor leapt to a last ditch indoor best of 6.68m to fall narrowly shy of the British record, co-held by Susan Henshaw and Jo Wise at 6.70m, while JJ Jegede landed at a surprising indoor best of 7.96m – but still quite a long way from the qualifying mark of 8.15m.

Finally, Lewis Moses edged out James Brewer in the late phases of the men’s metric mile in 3:45.58 to 3:45.66, but the latter could still hope of getting the second spot on the British team, while Andy Sutcliffe inflicted a second surprise defeat on Steve Lewis in the pole vault, clearing 5.55 (PB) to 5.45m, in an intriguing situation that unfolds in the event.

Full Results

Following the women’s preview, let’s have a look at what could be in store in the men’s events with the 60m and 400m taking prominent place due to the quality and the strength in depth of the fields.

60m (6.60/10.20 100m)

The renewed clash between Dwain Chambers and Simeon Williamson has effectively been delayed a week, the latter falling into a false-start in Moscow, but has lost none of its appeal or eager anticipation and should be expected as fierce as ever, with no quarters given or taken.

There is more than just an automatic place at stake in this showdown as it is reputation and pride also put on the line by the two sprint heavyweights who will fight it out for the right to the sprint throne of Britain.

Chambers wins the global indoor title in Doha two years ago

A battle that would have been even more tense and tighter had Richard Kilty, who roared to an easy-looking UK-leading 6.61 (PB) last weekend, added his own weight to what could be the showpiece of the championships.

Chambers showed a little tight and heavy-legged but his strength and composure still carried him through to a fast 6.64 secs for runner-up at the Russian Winter in Moscow but he should be expected to move up a gear and very likely into the 6.5s, emerging as a slight favourite to snatch an affair that should go all the way to the line.

Nevertheless, he is building up more with an eye on the summer rather than defending his world title in Istanbul and that would leave him a little vulnerable, athough his main rival is also employing the indoor season as a stepping stone and a platform to the Olympics.

That said, Williamson’s competitive return surpassed expectations, maybe even his very own, in a fastest ever opener of 6.64 secs at the SEAAs and following up even smoother in a 6.65 secs heat in Moscow so he looks back to his best and poised to challenge Chambers into that territory.

Harry Aikines-Ayreety hasn’t shown much yet but he is a force to be reckoned with although explosive starter Andrew Robertson, having improved substantially to a brace of 6.65s (PB) and very consistent, might turn to have an edge to shadow third, or even dare fancy splitting the top two favourites come to that.

An unknown quantity could be Mark Lewis-Francis, maybe risking a little, as he is rather surprisingly lining up after picking up a slight hamstring injury last weekend while young Greg Cackett could be fancied to upset a few names and make his own mark on the domestic scene.

Christian Malcolm is also involved, apparently looking for a gauge of his winter build-up, and along with U20 Adam Gemili and a revamped Leevan Yearwood could edge inside 6.7 secs.

200m (non-major championships event)

Up-and-coming prospect Danny Talbot is brimming with pace and looks poised to roar way inside 21 secs on the strength of the manner he dispenced with the field in Glasgow in 21.17 on the slow turf of Kelvin Hall, coming up as a firm favourite to collect the spoils.

Conrad Williams will be out for some serious speedwork and could drop towards the low 21 secs if his recent PB of 6.80 secs over the shorter dash is anything to go by. As for bronze, best shot looks Linford Christie‘s U23 charge Dannish Walker-Khan (21.51).

400m (46.90i/45.20)

European Indoor bronze medallist Richard Buck shrugged off a scrappy opener at Kelvin Hall to storm back to the top of the UK lists by way of a 46.95 secs in Birmingham last weekend, always thriving in indoor environments, and offers a slender but reliable favourite in what should be a battle royal that could go any way between four or five men.

Nevertheless, Nigel Levine looked sharp and issued a serious warning in landing a total PB of 21.31 secs over 200m at the same meet so poses a serious threat, likely to engage in his trademark aggressive runs from the front. He hasn’t competed over the distance this season but holds a PB of 46.17 secs from last winter.

Hurdler Thomas Phillips struck favourable impressions in a swift winning total PB of 47.08 secs in Seattle recently, even on an oversize track, to suggest a dark horse while the presence of European silver medallist and regular sub 45 man outdoors Michael Bingham adds flair and spice to the affair, off to a 47.61 secs opener last weekend too.

If he has got back on terms with the tight curves of indoor tracks again, he’s going to form a tough proposition to deal with and won’t be easy to beat.

Luke Lennon-Ford hasn’t quite shone so far with a SB of 47.93 secs but the European U23 bronze medallist’s chances shouldn’t be dismissed at any rate while David Riley and James Smallwood will be interesting figures off the back of PBs in 47.53 and 47.67 secs respectively last week.

800m (1:48.00i/1:45.00)

Young Welshman Joe Thomas has been in searing form and turning a revelation on the international stage this season, boasting four wins in as many races, so he should walk away with victory sight unseen – as simple as that!

He holds easily the three fastest times in the British Isles and commands a fiercesome turn of pace that none in the line-up can live with. The issue would be whether he is going to treat the race as a time trial or simply confirm his new-found status in a tactical affair.

Scot Guy Learmonth, into the U23 class now, is effectively in better shape than his SB of 1:49.52 suggests and looks the likeliest to occupy the runner-up spot behind him with former UK indoor champion Ed Aston quite possibly making up the medals.

1500m (3:42.00i or 3:59.00i/3:34.50 or 3:52.00 mile)

Despite a non-finish after being caught up in Mo Farah‘s fall in Boston, James Brewer is firmly back on track and racing well again, he is a shrewd tactician and a strong finisher that will take a good deal to beat no matter what shape the final might take.

Moreover, he has got already the qualifying time in the bag thanks to a 3:57.92 clocking over the mile at the US Open in New York, where he could have even won but for the experience of Andy Baddeley in the dying stages, so he is going to have that concern off his shoulders either and be fully focussed on his task.

Lewis Moses is enjoying the form of his life as reflected in a total PB of 3:41.33 in Vienna recently and could pose questions but maybe a tougher challenge could come from the ‘American’ duo of pacy Scot Kris Gauson and David Bishop, on a sharp upward trend and PBs of 3:59.95 and 4:00.10 in the mile lately. Slightly inconsistent Steve Mitchell could turn a factor into the equation on his day.

3000m (7:52.00i/7:44.00 or 13:19.00 5000m)

There is a quite even field and he who gets his tactics right will go a long way towards claiming top honours, so will it be strength or speed that is going to come on top in this contest?

James Wilkinson has been enjoying a sound winter either on the country, a European U23 silver medallist, or the road, fresh from a best of 13:55 over 5k in Armagh two days ago, and will like to make it a tough race to suit his steeplechase strength rather than leave matters to a late burn-up. On the evidence of his displays, he looks on the way to big improvements over the barriers in summer.

On the other hand, Stephen Davies looks to carry plenty of speed in his legs as his 3:42.39 over 1500m suggests and a slower pace could set him up nicely, while rising distance prospect Jonny Hay could as well be suited either way as he combines both elements well, demostrating a devastating finish past some top names for second in Edinburgh recently.

Jonny Mellor, who also fared well in Armagh, Olympic hopeful Luke Gunn and precocious teenager Zac Seddon are a few other names to watch out for.

60m hurdles (7.65/13.55 110mh)

With Daegu bronze medallist Andy Turner missing the event, the young generation picks up the mantle to pull together a good show over the sticks and they have shown more than equal to the task through the run-up to the UK Trials.

Burgeoning Andy Pozzi has stormed to a massive PB and qualifier of 7.62 secs, amazingly consistent in times in the 7.6 region, to shape a firm favourite to clinch his first British senior title although training partner Lawrence Clarke is lying quite close with also a PB of 7.68 secs and could entertain ambitions of his own, very consistent himself.

Then there is Gianni Frankis who has also made good strides forward to a big PB of 7.70 secs, as well as 6.85 secs over the flat 60m, and may have a say in the procedures while a surprise could arise from the mid 7.7 region where the likes of Julian Adeniran (7.75, PB) and Nick Gayle (7.77, PB) have settled.

Daegu finalist William Sharman and European U20 champion Jack Meredith will be also absent but the event has got more than enough in the tank to work fireworks in the arena of Sheffield.

Pole Vault (5.72)

Steve Lewis has been consistent and put in solid displays on the European pole vault circuit so far but is still missing that elusive qualifying standard and time is running short on him. It is very important that he gets that out of the way before pressure starts heaping up in a tense last week up to the deadline.

That said, he will also have to look over his shoulder as U23 Andrew Sutcliffe is closing in on him dangerously from behind and will fancy his chances of an upset on the buzz of a big PB of 5.54m recently, the youngster having already gone one up into the bargain.

Luke Cutts and Max Eaves haven’t ranged anywhere near their bests so the likes of Joe Ive (5.30), Gregor McLean (5.25) and Nick Crutchley could come in with a shout at the bronze.

High Jump (2.29)

Robbie Grabarz and Samson Oni promise to run away with the senses of spectators on new highs as they have displayed superb form on the circuit to gain a firm foothold in the top tier of the event.

Grabarz soars magnificently over a PB of 2.34 at Woopertal

Grabarz, 24 years of age, soared over a huge PB of 2.34m as he saw off Aleksey Dmitrik (RUS) at Woopertal while Oni equalled his lifetime best of 2.31m for third in a high quality contest in Hustopece, either doubling as an Olympic A qualifier in the process.

Therefore, they have both effectively booked their tickets for Istanbul, Martyn Bernard and Tom Parsons sitting out the indoor term, and can fully concentrate their efforts or raising the bar further with that burden off their shoulders.

This can turn a cracker in the full sense of the word!

Triple Jump (17.00)

With none of the big guns around on various grounds, namely Phillips Idowu, Nathan Douglas and Larry Achike, is it going to be up to someone from well behind to jump at it and snatch a welcome UK indoor gong. U23 Kola Adedoyin , who represented Britain at the new-look European Cup, and representing Jamaica now Nick Thomas come up as the closest bidders to do so, but jumps even over 16m could come at a premium.

Shot Put (20.00)

Scott Rider and Ryan Spencer-Jones appear set to fight it out for the top as a mere cm separates them this term, with SBs of 17.88 and 17.87m respectively, where U23 Zane Duquemin ought to round out the medals on a flurry of indoor bests last weekend.

Carl Myerscough has snatched the qualifying standard with a UK-heading 20.03m first time out this season over in the States but has not made the trip across the Pond.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Celtic Cup, Cardiff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Besides the overhead exploits of Holly Bleasdale and Robbie Grabarz overseas on Saturday, there was some serious action on home soil that witnessed a strong return to form for ‘forgotten forces’ Simeon Williamson and Abi Oyepitan in the sprints, as well as a surprise straight world indoor qualifier for Welshman Joe Thomas in Cardiff.

SEAA Championships, Lee Valley

At the Lee Valley, Williamson shrugged off over two years in the shadows and stormed to victory and straight to the top of the UK rankings in a swift 6.64 secs in the 60m, a UK leading mark and his fastest ever opener to a season.

If there had been any questions over his fitness, he dismissed them as early as the quarterfinals of a gruelling four-round racing schedule as he eased up to a comfortable 6.70 secs across the line, following up with a 6.73 secs semifinal, to suggest he is getting back to his very best.

Moreover, that served to peel off the image of a long established ‘slow-starter’ and he means business from the dawn of the season – really, how inspirational can be the ever-growing call of a home Olympics…

Simeon Williamson eases up to a 6.70 secs quarterfinal

He didn’t have things all his own way, though, as a revamped Rion Pierre, the 2009 European U23 100m bronze medallist, gave him a good run for his money to edge himself a PB of 6.66 secs for runner-up, with Josh Swaray nicking third on a photofinish decision tied with James Ellington in an equal PB of 6.70 secs – the original coming in the penultimate round.

‘E-Bay man’ Ellington had earlier posted a marginally faster PB of 6.69 in the semifinals for a sound early outing while Leevan Yearwood missed narrowly out himself a mere hundredth behind in 6.71 secs for fifth, easily his best indoor run in four years, and European U23 400m champion Nigel Levine put in some solid speedwork in 6.76 secs, having set an identical PB of 6.74 secs in both the previous two rounds.

Furlong specialist Danny Talbot left plenty of promise by way of his easily fastest two lifetime runs in 6.73 (quarters) and 6.74 secs (semis) to hone his speed nicely in view of his 200m international assignment for Britain at Kelvin Hall on Saturday.

It turned as competitive and tight up front in the women’s affair as an Abi Oyepitan from the old edged out Laura Turner in a fast 7.31 secs to 7.33 secs respectively, missing agonisingly out on the Istanbul qualifier by a mere hundredth of a second. But, on the strength of that opener, it ought to be only a matter of time before it falls into her stride.

Incidentally, that represented the fastest time in eight years for the Athens 200m Olympic finalist and just 0.04 secs shy of her PB set that very year, showing that she could be on the way to revise her CV seriously this year – and what a fairytale comeback that would make after such a long time in no man’s land!

Oyepitan had backed that up with a 7.34 secs in the semifinals earlier on, Turner returning 7.36 secs, while Margaret Adeoye was third in the final in 7.44 secs having ranged within a mere 0.02 secs through all three rounds, including a PB of 7.43 secs in the semifinals.

Bianca Williams and 17-year-old Sophie Papps engaged in a scintillating duel in the U20 women’s dash to draw big PBs of 7.46 and 7.50 secs respectively, with Dina Asher-Smith taking the U17 version in 7.61 secs.

Over the sticks, UK Trials runner-up Gianni Frankis put his recent string of equal PBs in the flat to good use as he came within a whisker of PB in 7.76 secs for a strong start, holding off Nick Gayle who set a SB of 7.83 secs.

19-year-old Ben Kelk edged under the 8 secs benchmark for the first ever time in 7.97 secs for third ahead of Alex Al Ameen (8.05).

The women’s equivalent saw a dramatic first, of many as it seems on the way, duel between Gemma Bennett and Beijing finalist Sarah Claxton, the two more likely hopefuls to join an effectively certain-to-be-named Tiffany Porter on the British Olympic team, with the win going to the former by the narrowest of margins in 8.25 (SB) to 8.26 secs respectively.

Hayley McLean, a finalist over 400m hurdles at the World Youth Championships, was the winner of the U20 women’s race in 8.87 secs.

In the jumps, Nadia Williams set a narrow SB of 13.13m to comfortably put away the triple jump and Joe Ive was head and shoulders above anyone else with a SB of 5.30m in the men’s pole vault.

Welsh Senior/U15/U13 Championships, Cardiff

Over in Cardiff, Wales, UK indoor champion Joe Thomas impressed as he opted to embark on a lone run out front in the semifinals that saw him draw under the qualifying standard for Istanbul in a best ever indoor mark of 1:47.82 over 800m, second fastest in Europe.

His previous marker indoors was slighly slower in 1:47.87 when upsetting Andie Osagie to a rather surprise UK indoor title but towards the peak of last winter, suggesting that he could be lying on the verge of a big breakthrough.

The young Welshman is next out to represent Britain at the AVIVA International in Glasgow and on that evidence he could well be on the way to a time in the region of 1:45 further into the indoor season – watch this space!

Ryan Spencer-Jones improved considerably up to 17.87m in the shot in his second outing of the winter and his PB of 17.98m shows already shaking on the face of it.

Elsewhere, UK U23 400m hurdles champion Caryl Granville notched the sprint hurdles in 8.79 secs and a fastest for two years indoor time of 56.43 secs in the heats of the 400m, but faltered in third in a considerably slower 57.02 secs in the final behind Helen Pryer (56.41) later on.

Scottish National Open, Glasgow

Allan Scott initiated the second age of his track career on a positive note as he edged his first race since winter 2009 in a decent 7.85 secs, gaining a picture of the early whereabouts of his form. On the face of it, he could draw into the 7.6 province before winter is out which would form a solid platform for the summer.

Former Commonwealth silver medallist Chris Baillie was second in 7.91 secs to show that he is ahead of schedule on last year but wasn’t particularly happy about his display, adding in a 7.13 secs over the flat distance.

Guy Learmonth entered the U23 class in a comfortable 1:51.03 win over 800m, finishing over three seconds ahead of his closest rival.


— Full results in the respective section —

(More later…)

Scott finishes second behind Andy Turner at the UK Indoor Champs in 2007

Olympic years, among others, set the scene to remarkable returns and a latest name to come forth and out of retirement is international hurdler Allan Scott, who felt he was losing interest in the sport three years ago.

The 29-year-old… Scot, in literally every sense, last raced back in the indoor season of 2009 where he failed to make the top eight over 60m hurdles at the European Indoor Championships in Turin, Italy.

Therefore, his return to the arena of the National Indoor Open at the Kelvin Hall in Glasgow this weekend feels like a leap in the dark but the call of the Olympics in very much his own backyard is too strong to ignore.

His greatest chance to make his mark on the international circuit came a year earlier, 2008, when he stumbled halfway through into an eventual sixth at the World Indoor Championships in Valencia, having left plenty of promise for even a medal in winning his semifinal in 7.57 secs leading up.

For that matter, he still occupies third place in the British all-time indoor lists at a Scottish record of 7.52 secs (2008) behind only world record holder Colin Jackson (7.30) and also great Tony Jarrett (7.42).

Also competing over the sticks at Kelvin Hall is former Commonwealth silver medallist Chris Baillie who sounds bouyant again and will be looking to put the memories of a dismal last summer away.


The competitive weekend is well into motion and the women’s pole vault has, as expected, dominated attention on Saturday from a British point of view as burgeoning new star Holly Bleasdale sneaked a narrow second win in as many winter outings in France while Sally Peake got her season off over a new Welsh indoor record up in Manchester.

European champion Jessica Ennis made a low-key inaugural showing this term in the shot at the Northern Athletics Championships in Sheffield while Andrew Robertson burst off to a UK-leading and equal PB of 6.68 secs in the 60m in Birmingham.

Meeting Capitale Perche, Clermont Ferrand, France

Holly Bleasdale may have not been as impressive on her return to France but she still pipped local girl Vanessa Boslak on countback at 4.52m, going over at the second time, to maintain her unbeaten early streak while her overall display itself was solid at this particular stage of the winter. But such are the heights she has rocketed to that marks in this region hardly earn her headlines anymore!

The European U23 champion made her entrance considerably higher with a first-time clearance at 4.33m, compared to just 4.21m en route to her UK record of 4.71m in Orleans, to  move on straight to her winning height before bowing out after three failures at 4.62m.

Incidentally, home nation record holder Boslak, boasting a PB of 4.70m, was again runner-up to Bleasdale on that previous occasion but comprehensively beaten at 4.51m, sneaking a SB today.

Third, fresh from a UK U20 record a week ago today, was Julien Raffalli’s new hot prospect Katie Byres on 4.33m at the third attempt, her second highest ever, to show that she is quickly settling in that region.

On the men’s side, Andrew Sutcliffe vaulted over a substantial SB of 5.33m to share top spot with Spaniard Manuel Conception in the men’s B competition, both displaying an identical card. That translates as his third best figure ever and augurs well for his ambitions into the main season.



Vault Manchester, Sportcity, Manchester

Sally Peake set an indoor Welsh record of 4.33m up at the Manchester Vault to go third in the UK lists this indoor term and enter the fray in promising manner, failing

Training alongside Britain’s No 2 Kate Dennison under Scott Simpson, she also holds the outright Welsh record at 4.35m from last summer and looks to set herself up nicely towards a bid for the A Olympic standard further down the way. As things turn, Britain could well see three women pole vaulters competing in London and it’s going to be interesting to see whether their male counterparts follow in their footsteps.

Bryone Raine was second at also a season starter of 4.13m, just 3cm below her PB from last summer, on countback from Zoe Brown, who climbed up by an identical amount on last weekend. Further below, Sally Scott was inducted into the U23 age group by way of a 4.03m mark and World Youth bronze medallist Lucy Bryan opened up with 3.83m, but Scottish record holder Henrietta Paxton must have been disappointed to leave the competition with only 3.73m to her credit.

On the men’s side, Commonwealth bronze medallist Max Eaves comfortably prevailed with a 5.23m clearance to place a good 20cm up on second-slotted U23 Gregor McLean, U20 Jax Thoirs (U20 Scottish indoor record) and Alasdair Strange who came all level at 5.03m.



Texas 10 Team Invitational, College Station, Texas, USA

Tyrone Edgar feels he is getting back to his best, injury-free after quite a while, and his first sample of a decent 6.76 secs to win the Olympic Development section over 60m at the Texan meet pointed to that direction. For that matter, that was his first indoor race since 2009 while his next outing looks to come in Houston late in the month.

Lorraine Ugen occupied second in the long jump with a last-gasp best of 6.12m on the day.

The most notable moment of the meet came in the women’s Olympic Development 60m where rising American prospect Jessica Young pipped Muna Lee on the line by a mere hundredth of a second, setting 7.31 and 7.32 secs respectively, while Charles Silmon won in 6.66 secs in the scoring men’s 60m final.



Northern Championships, Sheffield, Day I

Jessica Ennis, a major gold medal hope in London for Britain, might have left the arena slightly disappointed as her final-effort of 13.95m starting-point in the shot this term fared down on her respective opener of 14.11m at the same meet a year ago tomorrow. All the same, that was still a solid start amidst a heavy training schedule for the European heptathlon champion.

Her series were 13.46, 13.28, 13.03, 13.69, 13.86, 13.95 stepping up her throwing in the second half of the competition.

Highly tipped hurdler Yasmin Miller, just 16, caught the eye as she initiated her own campaign in a huge PB of 7.53 secs over the flat 60m, having also posted an intermediate best of 7.61 in the heats, and made a double of wins over the sticks in 8.69 secs.

Come to that, she convincingly got the better of multi-event top U20 prospect Katarina Johnson-Thompson over the flat distance although the Merseysider could be nonetheless pleased to have started off to a PB of 7.70 secs herself.

Kirsten McAslan, coached by Trevor Painter, tore round to an indoor PB of 54.35 secs from the outset, doubling as a championships record, which was not far off her absolute topper of 53.98 secs from last summer where Louise Bloor sped to a big PB of 7.46 secs in the heats, backing it up with a 7.48 secs later in the final.

U23 Annabelle Lewis was second in that one in 7.53 secs.

In a very competitive U20 Men’s 400m, precocious Clovis Asong edged top place just outside his fastest indoors in 48.43 secs ahead of Luke South (48.53) and Alex Boyce (48,71) dusting off some winter training cobwebs.



Midland Counties Open, Birmingham, Day I

Andrew Robertson wasted no time to get his game going this term as he swept to a straight equal PB of 6.68 secs in the men’s 60m, ‘warming up’ to a 6.71 secs in the first round, to replace Greg Cackett at the top of the UK charts.

The self-coached sprinter, an awesome starter, will be eager to cash in on his European U23 100m bronze into a relay contender for London but he will definitely have to work a great deal on his last 20m into the race, which was evidently suffering last summer.

Rion Pierre, the European U23 100m bronze medallist of 2009, came home second some way behind in 6.74 secs, having set a more promising 6.72 secs in the opening round though, while hurdler Gianni Frankis put in some more good speedwork by way of a brace of 6.95 secs trips down the straight to equal his week-old PB twice.

In the women’s version, Laura Turner ran the two fastest times in Britain this season starting with a 7.43 secs in the early flight and following up into a slightly faster 7.41 secs later on the day, way ahead of the opposition including Kadi-Ann Thomas. The latter looked still a long way from her best in third in 7.71 secs though a familiar slow starter.

400m girl Nadine Okyere posted a PB of 7.87 secs by the way backed up by her second fastest ever 7.90 secs in the following run for an encouraging start.

There was also good news from Beijing finalist Sarah Claxton who improved her SB substantially to 8.25 secs and attested her early form with a second run in that province in 8.27 secs, with former European indoor finalist Sarah McGreavy posting 8.53 secs.



McCain Cardiff Cross Challenge, Cardiff

Dab country hand Frank Tickner has seen off Jonny Hay, who sent shockwaves around in Edinburgh last weekend, to defend his title over the roughly 10km course in Cardiff through a solid six seconds although it may have been a distance too far yet for the youngster.

Results (Top 4)

Senior Men: 1,Frank Tickner 32.10, 2.Jonny Hay (U23) 32.16, 3,Adam Hickey 32.23, 4,Ashley Harrell 32.33

Senior Women:1.Lauren Howarth (U23) 24:18, 2.Caryl Jones 24:35, 3.Katrina Wooton 24:49, 4.Naomi Taschimowitz 24:53

U20 Men: 1.Harvey Dixon 25:16, 2.Ian Bailey 25.32, 3.Zak Seddon 25.44, 4.Joshua Grace 25:45

U20 Women: 1.Annabel Gummow 16.35, 2.Jennifer Walsh 16.46, 3.Jess Chen 17.27, 4.Abbie Hetherington 17.33


SEAA Championships incorporating U17/U15 Pentathlon Championships, Lee Valley

The high jumpers look to have taken the bit between their teeth and set out to make their point as Samson Oni followed up on Robbie Grabarz‘s impressive premiere the previous weekend to get off over a straight best ever season opener of 2.26m in the high jump.

By the way of things, there could be at least three contenders vying for places on the British team to the World Indoor Championships and the 31-year-old has already drawn into the mix and within shouting distance of the qualifying standard (2.29).

Louis Persent, the European U20 bronze medallist in 2009, ran 48.65 secs in the semifiinals of the men’s 400m but didn’t show up in the final later while 17-year-old hurdler Hayley McLean, sixth at the World Youth Championships last summer, was off to a straight indoor best of 57.58 secs, a mere 0.03 secs shy of her total PB.



Midland Counties Open, Birmingham, Day II

Robbie Grabarz may have not matched the heights of the previous weekend, sailing over a world indoor qualifier of 2.29m, but still managed a respectable level of 2.24m in the high jump to easily remain on a winning note into the new year, with semi-returned former European U23 champion Ben Challenger at 2.05m.

Former World Youth champion Ben Williams put in a triple jump opener of 15.28m while Adele Lassu nicked top place on countback at 1.80m from Isobel Pooley in the women’s high jump. As the main interest revolved around the jumps, U20 Naomi Reid won the age group competition at 12.13m.



Northern Championships, Sheffield, Day II

Former European U23 silver medallist Luke Cutts delayed his outing by a day, down for the Vault Manchester on Saturday, but eventually turned up in Sheffield to coast to an easy win at 5.20m, the same as nearly a month ago at Sportcity.

UK Trials runner-up JJ Jegede edged out comeback man Chris Kirk in the long jump, reaching 7.44 to 7.32m respectively, as Nadia Williams worked her way to a clear win in the triple jump with 13.11m after some early pressure from Yasmine Regis (12.79m).

Fourth in the same competition was no-event-regular Katarina Johnson-Thompson who never fails to show potential in yet another quarter and landed at a total PB of 12.56m, her second in as many line-ups during the weekend.



Chevron Houston Marathon, Texas, US

Holly Rush agonizingly missed her three-year-old PB by a mere three seconds in running 2h37:38 for an overall 38th in the streets of the Texan capital, falling short of the Olympic B standard in the process.


(More later on…)