Tag Archive: Holly Bleasdale


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anna Chicherova clears 2m for a multiple time this season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The British team has as follows:

MEN

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

WOMEN

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

*Subject to gaining qualifying standard

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

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

Men’s 2 miles

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

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

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

Women’s Pole Vault

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

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

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

Women’s Long Jump

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

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

Men’s High Jump

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

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

Women’s 3000m

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

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

Men’s 60m

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

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

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

Men’s 400m

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

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

Men’s 1500m

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

Men’s 60m hurdles

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

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

Women’s 60m

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

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

Women’s 400m

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

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

http://www.uka.org.uk/aviva-series/aviva-uk-trials-and-championships/timetable/

Anticipation and tension is building up sharply as the indoor season picks up to the crunch for the majority of hopefuls to pull on a British vest at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul in March, with a crucial last nine days up to the selection deadline marked with the UK Trials in Sheffield across the weekend.

Each athlete that tops an event over the next couple of days gains automatic selection provided they have achieved the qualifying standard set by UK Athletics as far as the cut-off, with the rest of the make-up of the team lying with the selectors.

There won’t be any such concerns on the mind of Jessica Ennis, though, as she has taken up the invitation extended by IAAF on the merit of her world ranking, the very holder of the global title in the pentathlon.

Britain’s golden girl is expected to dominate the limelight in an arena that feels like a second home to her as she is down for the high jump, the shot, the 60m hurdles and the long jump to effectively simulate a pentathlon but spread over two days.

So let’s have a look at how events look likely to shape up over the next two days in Sheffield, starting with the ladies.

60m (7.30/11.25 100m)

The women’s dash could have hardly turn any tighter and has got all the makings of a gripping thriller, likely to come down to a blanket finish between even up to five contenders. Apart from sheer speed, strength and composure may come in handy across three gruelling rounds back-to-back on Sunday.

Asha Philip has staged an astonishing comeback to form out of years in the shadows to storm to a UK-leading 7.24 secs at the London Games three weeks ago, looking fluent and powerful again, so is holding a slight edge going into the showdown.

As importantly, she maintained her nerve to cope brilliantly with the pressure of racing U20 sprint sensation Jodie Williams alongside, beating her twice on the same day – not many can boast that around!

Incidentally, she is rumoured to have left Mike McFarlane‘s group since summer although that will hardly have any bearing on the affair.

A silver medallist in Valencia four years ago, Jeanette Kwakye is back to her very best and literally demolished the field in a British runner-up mark of 7.26 secs at the AVIVA International but on the slower track of Kelvin Hall in Glasgow, therefore she should be regarded on an equal footing in the battle for top honours.

Laura Turner set 7.29 secs, her fastest ever leading up to a UK Trials, behind Ivet Lalova (BUL) in France last weekend so seems to be hitting form at the right time, having also tweaked her dynamics, while seasoned campaigner Abi Oyepitan has also returned on top of her game in 7.31 secs showing plenty of consistency into the bargain.

Williams, for her part, has raced sparingly and is lying slightly down on last year at this stage although that could turn round radically as soon as she settles in her blocks for her first round heat. She is a renowned fierce competitor and relishes rising to the occasion so none to take lightly.

Anyika Onuora showed race-rusty in her only showing so far, setting only 7.57 secs, and has got lots of ground to make where the distance may come a little too short for the strength of Margaret Adeoye, more suited to the 200m. Improving Annabelle Lewis and talented U20 Sophie Papps could surprise a few.

200m (non-major championship event)

Adeoye, a shock winner in Glasgow, is playing on her own ground here and stands head and shoulders above anyone else in the field so probably setting her eyes mainly on the clock and a new PB. Louise Bloor is a shade away from the sub 24 secs region and U23 now Jenny Batten could spring a surprise second.

400m (53.25i/51.25)

Nicola Sanders steps on an indoor track on racing terms for the first time since her sensational triumph at the European Indoor Champs in Birmingham 2007 in a UK record of 50.02 secs, fifth fastest all-time, and she will be raring to mark a new chapter to her career and haul back into top form.

She is held to have enjoyed a smooth winter build-up, spending a lengthy spell down in South Africa, which forms a solid platform to her campaign for starters. After all, talent has never been an issue with her, it is all about keeping in one piece.

Perri Shakes-Drayton has pulled out to take some gloss off what looked like a potential highlight of the Trials but Sanders still faces off with a worthy rival in Shana Cox, who has the potential to go places in the event.

However, she looked in deep waters round the tight bends of the Kelvin Hall recently, as though she hadn’t been on an indoor track for ages, so will have to pare down that margin on the curb to give herself a fair chance. Her SB of 53.08 secs in the heats of the Birmingham Games was a good sign in that respect.

Relay places will be up for grabs as well and Nadine Okyere comes in first in the shake-up on a recent indoor best of 53.43 secs behind Vania Stambolova (BUL) in Vienna, plus PBs in the sprints, while a burgeoning Emily Diamond could turn a revelation having smashed her PB into 54.19 secs last weekend.

From there on, Laura Langowski, Emma Pullen, Kirsten McAslan and Shelayna Oskan-Clarke could all dip inside 54 secs, Kim Wall an unknown quantity.

800m (2:03.50i/1:59.50)

Marilyn ‘Maz’ Okoro is the overwhelming favourite to dominate the event and clinch her berth on the British team to Turkey as she has got far too much for anyone else in the field to handle. Rowena Cole, the European U20 silver medallist, Charlotte Best, Tara Bird and Alison Leonard ought to fight it out for the minor top three places.

1500m (4:14.00i or 4:31.00i mile/4:03.50 or 4:22.00 mile)

Not a single name among Britain’s top 10 milers is about to tackle the distance and thus Scot Claire Gibson, along with Laura Kirk, rise as the most likely candidates to lift the title. Qualifying times chances don’t look good in this quarter though.

3000m (8:51.00i/8:38.00 or 15:02.00 5000m)

Having already shown enough to effectively ensure of selection, European Indoor champion Helen Clitheroe is skipping the affair leaving the field open to Hannah England and her lethal finishing kick to prevail.

It’s hard to see how the Daegu 1500m runner-up could possibly lose this race whether it be a slow tactical affair or paced hard from the front as she possesses the required equipment to cope with everything thrown at in the context of it.

Gemma Steel, on the back of a fabulous season on the country, might have an outside chance to shake her as long as she commits herself to a fast pace from the off and can take the race inside 9 minutes, while pacy Stacey Smith ought to come among the medals from the rest.

Interesting figures on show are Emily Pidgeon, Elle Baker, Abbey McGhee, Beth Potter and Katrina Wooton.

60m hurdles (8.10 or 12.95 100mh)

UK record holder Tiffany Porter is missing since racing at the centennial Milrose Games in New York so Jessica Ennis takes pole position to land yet another British title over the hurdles, with an eye on her PB of 7.95 secs. Her first sample of a 8.05 secs on the very same track at the opening leg of the McCain Indoor Challenge firmly points to that way.

Gemma Bennett has solid hopes of edging under the qualifying mark on a SB of 8.16 secs set in Glasgow whereas Beijing finalist Sarah Claxton has failed to build on an encouraging start as yet, with a SB of 8.25 secs.

Consequently, the likes of Louise Wood and U23 Ashley Helshby might fancy their chances of sneaking into the medals on the grounds of PBs of 8.31 and 8.34 secs respectively.

Commonwealth heptathlon champion Louise Hazell will be out in this one as well looking to challenge her own PB of 8.27 secs, slightly over a tenth down this season on 8.38 so far, as is Meghan Beesley over a speed workout on the back of a n indoor best of 53.74 secs over 400m in Birmingham midweek.

High Jump (1.92)

Young Isobel Pooley, fresh from a big PB of 1.88m last weekend in the same arena, is brimming with confidence and could push Ennis towards her PB and equal  UK record of 1.95m, as could herself be spurred on by her great opponent to reach the qualifying standard of 1.92m and book her ticket for Istanbul.  But, at length, there appears that it could be some light at the end of the tunnel in this event on the domestic front.

Interesting to see what Steph Pywell has to offer though she looks some way off her best at the moment.

Pole Vault (4.52)

This is no contest by any stretch of the imagination but more of a Holly Bleasdale vs the bar affair that will turn on the freshness of the new British sensation in athletics following her epic battle with Yelena Isinbayeva in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on Wednesday. A new UK record is always a possibility whenever she turns up in a competition.

Britain’s No2 Kate Dennison will be missing to leave the gap on the opposition even larger but there is a potential separate duel between swiftly rising U20 record holder Katie Byres and Welsh top all-time marker Sally Peake shaping up that could spur either on to new standards.

Also U20 Lucy Bryan is an interesting character for the future in the field and Sally Scott could improve considerably.

Long Jump (6.65)

Shara Proctor has shown very consistent with two indoor bests of 6.59 and 6.60m in as many outings this season so ought to come on top with relative ease, with pressure off her shoulders since she holds a qualifying 6.81m from last summer. Hopefully, she is going to keep up the trend and improve even further towards the 6.70s to boost her chances of a good result in Turkey.

Tony Minichiello says that Jessica Ennis is gearing up to a leap in the discipline and that would be a good occasion to bring it about and shake the confidence of her major rival for gold, Tatyana Chernova.

Abigail Irozuru looks like a safe bet to make up the top three and is on a PB-ing streak lately.

Triple Jump (14.10)

Yamile Aldama could be on the verge of turning her 40 but has still plenty of spring left in her legs to deliver the goods on the big stage, having started the season on a winning note at 14.03m in Glasgow. Two weeks on, she should move up a gear and well capable of landing towards the 14.30-14.40s and announce herself as a potential medallist in Istanbul next month.

Nadia Williams will be out to add to her recent 13.52m in Vienna but if one is looking for a breakthrough then world U20 silver medallist Laura Samuel fits the description, always relishing a championships environment.

Shot Put (17.50)

The spotlight will be on Jessica Ennis, again, eyeing to reach way beyond the 14m mark after a solid opener of 13.95m on this ground about three weeks ago. But spare a few glances on Eden Francis, the European U23 discus champion in 2009, who has made plenty of headway and is lying on the edge of 17m, setting a PB of 16.92m last week – the farthest by a Brit since 2006.

Louise Hazell goes in this one too and U20 Sophie McKinna is a good prospect for the future to follow.

Britain’s new sensation Holly Bleasdale has narrowly missed out on handing a historic first ever defeat to pole vault legend Yelena Isinbayeva in a nailbiting battle that unfolded in the Luczniczka arena for the Pedros Cup in Bydgoszcz, Poland, yesterday.

The world record holder ground out a crucial edge in a second-time clearance over 4.68m, her opening height, to win on countback as the Briton managed to steer clear of the bar in her final attempt, having also taken in a ‘warm-up’ first time 4.52m en route.

After watching Anna Rogowska (POL) and Yarisley Silva (CUB) fail to progress at 4.74m, both opted to take matters up to 4.80m and settle their score there but neither could get the better of the bar, with the Russian looking the more convincing.

Bleasdale, however, did hand Isinbayeva a first serious test and warning of her intentions, letting her know that she will be breathing down her neck, to bolster up her new-earned place in the very elite of the event, taking plenty of heart from her showing and grit.

And an impressive array of scalps such as Rogowska, the world champion in Berlin, Silva, former world record holder Sveltana Feofanova and Monica Pyrek (POL) will only help take her confidence sky high. After all, she is still operating off a 16-stride pattern as well as applying a few late tweaks to her gear so she knows there is a lot more in the tank.

Rogowska, for her part, snatched third on the end of a bumpy flight from Silva at 4.60m on countback, a SB for both, where Feofanova finally had to make do with only fifth at 4.52m.

On the men’s end, Steve Lewis suffered a similar fate to Bleasdale in that he also slotted into second place on a first-time 5.60m, tied with Czech Jan Kuducka, but Pole Lucasz Michalski worked himself plenty of space at the top over an equal indoor best of 5.72m at the death in this instance.

The Briton also attempted that height himself but could not find a way over meaning that he is still looking for the qualifying standard of Istanbul, equating to the Olympic A for London as well.

Daegu silver medallist Lazaro Borges (CUB) surprisingly stayed well down at 5.40m for a fine scalp, however, along with that of young German Karsten Dilla, fourth at also 5.60, and former world champion Giuseppe Gibilisco (ITA).

In the men’s shot, Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski (POL) held on to a valuable early win at a SB of 21.05m against a late rally from Christian Cantwell (USA) who hurled a last-ditch 20.96m.

Portoguese Marco Fortes set a new indoor national record of 20.77m to get third ahead of a rather below par on the day Reese Hoffa (USA), who could muster only a fifth-round 20.61m.

Results

http://www.domtel-sport.pl/insidethecode/files/2917-pl.pdf

Great feats cannot be hidden under the sun, even if they take place in indoor arenas, and Holly Bleasdale‘s burgeoning reputation and shine reaches the furthest quarters of the athletics sphere to have rendered her as a hot new attraction on the circuit.

Her recent sensational UK record of 4.87m in Lyon raised her ‘stakes’ sharply and it was only a matter of time before she was summoned to a first major joust for the right to the throne of the women’s pole vault and it couldn’t get bigger than Yelena Isinbayeva, the very icon of the event itself.

‘Isi’ is endeavouring to resurrect her fallen empire and made a solid start of 4.70m in Volgograd last month but has been overshadowed against the blazing fireworks of not only Bleasdale but also Jenn Suhr (USA) and Sielke Spiegelburg (GER) in the skies, facing a potential danger to slip further behind as the event undergoes dramatic changes about to inaugurate a new era.

The Briton has shifted her run-up from 14 up to 16 strides from early last week so her range should be anticipated to push higher and could even set her up to challenge as high as the world record itself, having already attempted 5.01m this term.

The setting will be the Pedros Cup in Bydgoszcz (Poland), the winter version, and former world champion Anna Rogowska will be adding further gloss to that first showdown.

UK U20 record holder Katie Byres, striding on the blazing trail of Bleasdale, will be also on hand looking to soar higher than her landmark of 4.36m and Andrew Sutcliffe will be hoping to build on his recent PB of 5.54m and make impression on Steve Lewis ahead of the UK Trials this weekend.

The writing was on the wall ever since that startling early winter new British record of 4.71m off only 12 strides in Orleans, France, that a new astoeroid was to impact and send shockwaves around the rarefied spheres of women’s pole vault.

After a ‘mortal interlude’ of a narrow-winning 4.52 in Clermont Ferrand, it was in the skies of Lyonnais (Lyon), a legendary domain of King Arthur, that new sensation Holly Bleasdale rocketed high and blazed brightly over a  massive British milestone of 4.87m to fulfil the foretelling.

Holly Bleasdale rockets over a stunning new UK milestone of 4.87m in Lyon

Insofar as that she even came to overshadow the season premiere of vault queen Yelena Isinbayeva (RUS), who had earlier on the day got off to a solid return 4.70m in Volgograd.

Even more astonihingly, she was still operating off a 14-stride run-up pattern which lends her exploits an even more frightening aspect and suggests there is a lot more to come, daring the until very recently unthinkable and unspeakable for a Brit; raise the bar at a would-be world record height of 5.01m at the end.

The mind-boggling question is ever hanging around and speculation fired up, what regions she can reach once she  gets into her full stride and peaks later into the season? Well, this girl looks as though she could really stretch the imagination and leap into uncharted territories touching the boundaries of the fictional. But maybe, just maybe, Britain could gain a new world record holder literally out of the woodwork down the season.

For that matter, Bleasdale landed not only one but three British records in quick succession through a string of impressive first-time clearances; getting off over 4.72 to eclipse her pre-event marker, moving on to a massive follow-up of 4.80 to topple Silke Spiegelburg (4.77) off the top of the world rankings and wrapping up a wonder evening by stretching her new-gained global lead a further 7 cm in her final effort amid a buzz in the stands.

To draw her feat into perspective, that 4.87m landmark represents the second highest mark ever set indoors behind Isinbayeva’s own world record of 5m sharp and occupies fourth spot overall with outdoor and indoor all-time lists combined – Jenn Suhr (4.92) and Svetlana Feofanova (4.88) are the only others to have gone higher in any environment.

Bleasdale attempts a world indoor record at 5.01m

On the ground of a competition turning soon into a Bleasdale vs the bar affair, former UK record holder Kate Dennison made her first appearance since a serious injury sustained in qualification in Daegu to pick up 4.34m for runner-up on countback, tied with a fast-improving Sally Peake who shadowed her week-old Wales indoor record by a single cm. Both failed to register the next stop at 4.44m next.

Rising U20 star Katie Byres, who looks to be striding on the blazing trail of Bleasdale, could not emulate the exploits of her previous two outings on French soil and had to make do with just 4.14m, a figure also shared by Bryony Raine for second place in the B group (SB) where Henrietta Paxton struggled again down at only 3.89m.

There was further good news for Julien Raffalli‘s camp as Andrew Sutcliffe, world U20 bronze medallist in Moncton, rose over a huge PB of a third-time 5.54m to smash his former figure of 5.36 in winning the B competition and move 11th overall in the combined British all-time rankings. At this pace, he could emerge as a serious contender for an Olympic spot himself in London.

U23 Nick Crutchley and Scot Gregor McLean were 9th and 10th respectively on countback at a SB of 5.19 level with with athletes up to sixth place while Commonwealth surprise bronze medallist Max Eaves was reduced to same height in the main group won by Greek Kostas Filippidis on an equal indoor national record of 5.72m.

Local favourite Romain Mesnil was second on countback from Chinese Yangsheng Yang thanks to a first-time clearance at 5.54m.

Full Results

http://bases.athle.com/asp.net/liste.aspx?frmbase=resultats&frmmode=1&frmespace=0&frmcompetition=100665

Away from France, new Scottish U20 record holder Jax Thoirs placed seventh at another pole vault-oriented meet in Gothenburg with 5.05m, his second best ever.

http://sites.google.com/site/stavhoppskarnevalenen/start-list

SATURDAY

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.

Results

http://bases.athle.com/asp.net/liste.aspx?frmbase=resultats&frmmode=1&frmespace=0&frmcompetition=089728&frmposition=1

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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.

Results

http://www.thepowerof10.info/resultsfiles/2012/60103_12658_15012012192921_VaultManchester%20Results%20Sat%2014%20jan%202012.zip

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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.

Results

http://www.flashresults.com/2012_Meets/indoor/01-14-TAMUChallenge/realtime/

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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.

Results

http://www.noeaa-athletics.org.uk/FileUploads/Inddor_Champs_Day_1_Results_2012.xls

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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.

Results

http://www.thepowerof10.info/resultsfiles/2012/58244_6002_15012012131830_1st%20Open%2014-15%20jan%202012%20results.xls

SUNDAY

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

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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.

Results

http://www.thepowerof10.info/resultsfiles/2012/56900_6002_16012012101839_New%20Compressed%20(zipped)%20Folder.zip

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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.

Results

http://www.thepowerof10.info/resultsfiles/2012/58244_6002_16012012102110_New%20Compressed%20(zipped)%20Folder.zip

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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.

Results

http://www.noeaa-athletics.org.uk/FileUploads/Indoor_Champs_full_Results_2012.xls

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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.

Results

http://results.houstonmarathon.com/2012/

(More later on…)