Eilidh Doyle brought the curtain down on the British Indoor Trials last night in Sheffield with a 400 metres victory that maintained her unbeaten start to 2017. As ever, the Olympic bronze medallist has the summer, rather than the spring, at the front of her mind but there are always gains to be made and medals up for grabs.
Starting with next month’s European Championships in Belgrade where the 29-year-old, now assured of her place in the UK team, will have ambitions to improve upon the silver she acquired in Gothenburg in 2013, a platform from which she travelled onward to fifth place in her hurdles specialism at the subsequent outdoor world championships.
“That was my best season to date so we thought we’d replicate that this year,” she affirmed. “I didn’t do it in 2016 because I got married quite late in the year and it was all a bit of a rush. This time, we planned it from the start and it’s helped with confidence because I know my speed is there.”
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In a post-Olympic year, many are solely dabbling indoors or sitting out completely. Andy Butchart set a Scottish-best over two miles of 8.12.63 at the Millrose Games in New York on Saturday to come third at the event while Lynsey Sharp was also third in the 800m.
With neither requesting an exemption from the trials, it is understood both will skip the Europeans despite impressive American campaigns.
However, Guy Learmonth has no such reservations of a trip to the Serbian capital, charging clear towards victory in the 800m, another building block in a revival of his career that has centred on a return home to the Borders and a leaner, meaner frame.
“My Dad had drilled the tactics into me all week,” he said. “I run well when I’m front running and I’m shape. The way I’ve been running lately, they can’t keep up if I run like that. I didn’t want it to be tactical and it’s paid off.”
Eilish McColgan, freshly returned from Kenya, came up just short of a unprecedented medal double by landing silver in the 1500 metres final, 24 hours after holding off fellow Scot Steph Twell over 3000m. Long estranged from running indoors, the Dundonian is running carefree and confident following her winter’s work. “I’d have loved to have won the 1500 but I knew it was going to be tough,” she admitted. “But it was a good weekend, considering the amount of work I’ve done the past few weeks.”
Allan Smith claimed the UK indoor high jump title for the second time in three years ahead of London 2012 bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz. But with both men missing the Belgrade qualifier of 2.28m, the 24-year-old will now chase the height before next weekend’s deadline.
Meanwhile with a new France-based coaching team around her, version 2.0 of Katarina Johnson-Thompson formally began her reboot with second place behind Lorraine Ugen in the long jump.
Maddeningly unable to realise her potential in the heptathlon, the radical redesign, claims the Liverpudlian, has primarily reawakened her affection for the sport.
“I sort of didn’t enjoy anything over the last two years and it was going down that path where I wasn’t enjoying it and you could see it in my performances,” she revealed.
“I think being in one piece has got something to do with it. I’m not injured, I’m out there and enjoying it and not worrying about any of my body falling apart.”
Elsewhere there were bronzes for Mhairi Hendry in the 800m and Grant Plenderleith in the 200m which took the Scottish medal tally to eight.