Capital high-jumping pair relish Meadowbank duel

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Despite the disappointing news that the London 2012 Olympic heptathlon champion Jess Ennis has been forced to withdraw due to a stiff Achilles tendon, there will still be a quality line-up for the UK Women’s League Premier Division meeting at Meadowbank on 
Saturday.

In high jumpers Jayne Nisbet and Emma Nuttall, who are ranked in the top three in Britain this year, hosts Edinburgh AC have one of the strongest suits in their pack.

As a result, it would be a surprise if the Capital’s two spring-heeled leapers did not capture maximum points for the home cause by winning both the A and B string events.

Nuttall, who is currently home on summer vacation from Trinity Western University in 
Vancouver, Canada, had hoped to compete against Ennis, but even before the Sheffield-born Olympic hero had pulled out, she had already indicated that she would have been contesting the 100 metres hurdles, long jump and javelin; not the high jump, which she had excelled in in recent years.

Instead Nuttall, a 21-year-old former Tynecastle High School pupil, will have to concentrate on her battle with clubmate Jayne Nisbet, the older of the two by nearly four years.

Remarkably evenly-matched, they have amassed an array of Scottish honours between them, both have a career best of 1.86 metres and both have bagged the Commonwealth Games target of 1.80 metres with relative ease since the qualifying period began on April 1.

Loughborough-based Nisbet prevailed over Nuttall with a Games standard of 1.84m at the Loughborough International last month which she backed up with a 1.83m jump in Geneva last Saturday while Nuttall turned the tables on Nisbet at the Bedford International Games with a 1.81m first Games standard. Nuttall will employ a short approach to her jumps on Saturday as, with the assistance of former Commonwealth bronze medallist Moira Maguire, she has been concentrating on her technique since her return from Canada.

Having put in another hard winter’s preparation with coach Laurier Primeau, her main target is now next month’s European Under-23 Championships in Tampere, Finland, for which the trials are on June 15 and 16.

To earn selection she must clear a new personal best of 1.87m, a height her city rival just failed to make in Geneva.

Nisbet has adopted a new approach this year, working under the guidance of her three coaches. David Parker is her strength and conditioning coach; Graham Ravenscroft, her former coach, is now writing her programmes; and Grant Brown, a Loughborough student, is supervising her training sessions.

“I’m ready to jump high – I’ve never opened the season so high before (1.84m) and I’ve made a lot of technical changes in the last eight ten weeks,” said 
Nisbet, whose target is the British team high jump spot for the European Team Championships in Gateshead later this month.

Nisbet insists she doesn’t pay much attention to her opposition, instead focusing on her own performance. “I don’t watch anyone else,” she says. “I don’t like seeing the bar fall down.”

She still expects Saturday’s event to be a bit different from the normal UK Women’s League match, with a large crowd in attendance. She said: “Normally these meetings are a bit dead so it could be really good to have people there to support us.”