A relative stranger in the land she is entitled to call home, Nicole Yeargin pitched up in the UK a week ago with ambitions to make friends and influence people.

British Athletics selectors, above all, as they conduct their due diligence at this weekend’s Olympic trials in Manchester.

Raised in Maryland, schooled in California but with a birth right to represent the United Kingdom through a mother from Dunfermline who fed her daughters mince and tatties as a nod to the old country, the 23-year-old rocketed to the head of the domestic 400 metres rankings with an accomplished time of 50.96 seconds at this month’s American collegiate championships.

And in her maiden run in this country last night, she put herself in pole position for a ticket to Tokyo next month by winning her heat in 53.03 secs, with an air of assurance that not even a stiff Mancunian breeze could disrupt. “I feel good,” she affirmed. “It wasn’t my fastest race and I’m now getting used to the weather.”

With the qualifying standard already corralled, a top two placing in this evening’s final will guarantee her Olympic debut. “I came to the trials to win,” she added. “I want to win and be the number one. It would be amazing to be an Olympian and it’s such a dream.”

Short of high-level race practice without the leeway to venture overseas, Zoey Clark was poised in also advancing through her heat in second place in 52.25 secs. The Aberdonian, keen to also protect her relay berth, kept calm in the outside lane and survived the initial cut in following Jodie Williams through the line. 

“Heats are always difficult to negotiate because you’ve got to run them sensibly,” Clark said. “There is so much strength in depth with the women’s 400 right now that it was always going to be a really tough job. I’m just glad I was able to negotiate it.”

Jake Wightman safely progressed into today’s men’s 1500m final with a last-lap sprint to victory in his semi in 3:45.82. And the European medallist will be joined by Edinburgh club-mate Josh Kerr who underlined his status as favourite as the quickest qualifier in 3:44.46.

“The hard bit is you think about Tokyo, but there's always this,” said Wightman. “It's not necessarily an obstacle, but it's something you've got to get through in order to get there. It's like you don't deserve the right to compete in the Olympics if you don't perform well this weekend.”

Meanwhile Laura Muir appears intent on hunting a Tokyo double after opting to duel with Jemma Reekie over 800m. The European champion is all but guaranteed a 1500m place but skipped her primary event for a secondary chance. In their absence, training partner Erin Wallace reached the 1500m final with second in her semi with Fife’s Jenny Selman likewise making it through.

Meanwhile Chris Bennett wants his redemption story to continue with a chapter at the Tokyo Olympics that signals there is a route back from dealing with sport’s mental pressures. 

The Glaswegian heads into tomorrow’s hammer throw in full belief that he can catapult himself to a second Games appearance with a lifetime best beyond the qualifying mark of 77.50 metres that would likely see him adjoin Nick Miller and Taylor Campbell in the event. 

Yet it is just three years since what seemed like catastrophic failure at the Commonwealths in Australia pushed suicide into his personal panorama, requiring an urgent rehabilitation from his support network and a review of what had become too burdensome an obsession with fulfilling the criteria laid down for Lottery funding and self-worth. 

“I don't want to be remembered as someone who went to two Commonwealth Games and messed up it all,” he acknowledges. “And I thought there's more to life than spinning around in a circle.” 

The biggest asset in Bennett’s renewal is former rival Andy Frost who is now the lone voice in the room when career – and life – decisions are made, freeing his charge to simply focus on throwing long. “I wish I had moved to him a lot sooner,” he affirmed. “Because I have a person in my corner now. And a person who wants what's best for me, not looking after some medal target.”