Out of Africa, straight to Sheffield, Eilish McColgan ventured into the virtual unknown with a first indoor outing in five years yesterday but made herself instantly at home.
Powered by the reserves of fuel accumulated during three weeks in the mountains of Kenya, the Dundonian accelerated to victory at the UK Championships, relieving fellow Scot Steph Twell of her 3,000 metres title by 23-hundredths of a second with her dip finish exploited to the max.
Running freely and confidently after the rarity of an injury-free winter, McColgan – who also advanced into today’s 1,500m final – senses significant gains have been made amid a stretch that began with what was then a world-leading time over 10km and will be extended by the opportunity to go to next month’s European Indoors in Belgrade.
“Endurance-wise I’m a lot stronger than ever before,” she asserted. “In Kenya, out of nowhere, I started getting a lot quicker on the track work which showed my speed. And my strength has improved. That’s why I was excited to come here because I knew I could do both 1,500 and 3,000 and I’d have the strength to cope with the last lap. I felt like if I had to get another gear I could have so I’m positive about things. Now I’m looking forward to next weekend in Birmingham against the world’s best and chase another PB.”
Twell, already assured of joining her at Saturday’s Muller Grand Prix, will look for further strides forward ahead of the Europeans where the pair will probably be joined by Laura Muir in the 3,000m field. “That wasn’t bad on cold weather training,” the European 5,000m medallist said. “I just took a second too long to decide tactics on the last lap.”
Andrew Pozzi won the 60m hurdles with room to spare after besting his own world-leading time of 7.44 seconds in the semis. Asha Philip took the UK indoor 60m title for a fourth time but reigning world and European champion Richard Kilty false-started in the men’s final, leaving Andi Robertson to seize the title.
Scottish champion Mhairi Hendry secured a first senior medal with bronze in the 800m final behind Shelayna Oskan-Clarke and Adelle Tracey. “It’s a major step forward,” the 20-year-old from Hamilton said. “I’ve had a tough winter balancing university but I feel I’m quicker and stronger.”
European hopeful Eilidh Doyle, pictured, qualified fastest for today’s 400m final but Kirsten McAslan, in her first race since succumbing to glandular fever last spring, exited in the semi-finals. While Guy Learmonth was quickest into today’s 800m final in 1:50.06 in his semi to maintain the kind of form he trusts will steer him to a European medal. “I didn’t want to make any mistakes,” the Borderer said. “I get the job done here and then do the same in the final. I’ve had clean races from the front so far. I’m feeling confident.”
Elsewhere this afternoon, European silver medallist Jazmin Sawyers faces Lorraine Ugen and Katarina Johnson-Thompson in the long jump.
Meanwhile Jenny Meadows believes athletics chiefs should have awarded her the 800m gold from the 2010 world indoor championships after the doping ban handed out to former rival Mariya Savinova last week. The Russian was stripped of several major medals, including Olympic title from London 2012, but her retrospective ban was deemed to begin just after she pipped Meadows in Doha seven years ago.
“The main thing for me is just almost the moral injustice,” said Meadows, who will pace Muir’s world 1,000m record attempt in Birmingham.