WITH the business end of the athletics season at its outset, Laura Muir and Lynsey Sharp have already signalled they are genuine contenders for Commonwealth gold with the Scottish pair establishing personal bests to lay down impressive markers at last night’s Fanny Blankers-Koen meeting at Hengelo in the Netherlands.
Sharp was fourth in the 800 metres but the reigning European champion delivered an emphatic performance to finish in 2:00.09, scything almost half a second off the time she recorded when claiming her first major title in 2012. It vaulted her into second place in the Commonwealth rankings at the distance, as well as securing the same position on the all-time Scottish charts.
It came less than an hour after yet another dynamic showing by Muir, who was second in the 1500m in a lifetime best of 4:02.91.
In her first outing of the summer, the 21-year-old from Perthshire was edged out by local favourite Sifan Hassan, but by deciding to push herself to the fore, she claimed the valuable scalps of leading British rival Hannah England, along with world indoor silver medallist Axumawit Embaye.
“It was good racing,” Muir’s coach Andy Young said. “And if you take that the second lap was 58 seconds, there’s an even faster time in there.
“But I was pleased that she went to the front and went for it to make sure she was in PB territory, as well as fighting for a good placing. Tactics-wise, she got it almost perfect.”
Meanwhile, Guy Learmonth was ninth in the 800m.
With Scottish Athletics selectors meeting last night to finalise their squad for the Commonwealths, a flurry of last-minute attempts to snare qualifying standards came up short, with hosts likely to confirm a 58-strong team for Hampden on Thursday.
Among those who will miss out is long jumper Allan Hamilton who pulled out the third-best effort ever by a Scot in Birmingham on Saturday – soaring 7.81 metres – before coming up an agonising four centimetres of the qualifying mark in Livingston yesterday.
He will be joined on the outside, looking in, by rival James McLachlan who was just two centimetres short in his Midlands outing.
Likewise, there will no Games invite for jumpers Gillian Cooke and Lisa Ferguson who both fell short in Birmingham and Livingston, with the former bobsleigh world champion crushed by an Achilles tweak.
“I was limping and I could hardly walk,” Cooke said. “That kind of hampered things. I tried to push through but it just wasn’t my day.
“It’s frustrating to be so close. I did 6.17 at the East Districts with my foot behind the board and I reckon I’ve done the 6.20 standard at least four times. It’s just annoying only one of them counted and I’m going to miss Glasgow.”
Hammer rivals Myra Perkins and teen prospect Kimberley Reed face a tense wait for the phone call which will reveal if they are in or out of the team when the affirmations arrive today.
Mark Mitchell seems set to lose out to Jake Wightman for a 1500m spot despite delivering his third Commonwealth standard with a 3:41.48 time in Germany.
Elsewhere, Rhona Auckland finished 12th in the European Championship 10,000m in Skopje but the Edinburgh University student’s time of 33:28.74 was outside the Glasgow 2014 standard.
• At the Hengelo meeting Chijindu Ujah became the third quickest Briton in history by posting a superb time of 9.96 seconds in the 100m.
The 20-year-old clocked his previous best of 10.14secs at last month’s Loughborough International meeting, but smashed that to finish second behind Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago. Ujah’s terrific time puts him behind only Linford Christie (9.87) and James Dasaolu (9.91) on the UK all-time list, while he becomes just the fifth Briton to have broken the ten-second barrier.
Harry Aikines-Aryeetey finished fifth in Hengelo in a time of 10.03, with James Ellington (10.18) in ninth.