British stars rise to occasion in Olympic dress rehearsal


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The Independent Online

It was the morning after the night before and Vernon Kay, Gabby Logan, Mel C, the Military Wives, Hugh Bonneville and Co had packed up and moved on. The X Factor-style glitz of the official opening of the 2012 Olympic Stadium gave way to Britain's Got Talent on day three of the athletics test event, the British Universities and Colleges Sport Championships.

To be fair, amid all of the razzmatazz for the 40,000 crowd, there had been some notable British talent on the track and in the field on Saturday night. Despite the biting wind and the bitter cold, the giant Croydon discus thrower Lawrence Okoye maintained his world-class early-season form with a 63.57-metre effort, Robbie Grabarz cleared 2.26m in the high jump and world indoor pole vault bronze medallist Holly Bleasdale – wearing tights and using a shortened run-up – won her event on countback with 4.25m.

Minus the big crowd and the celebrities yesterday morning, though, Andy Pozzi showed that he has the potential to become one of the stellar performers in the British track-and-field firmament. The 19-year-old, who finished fourth in the 60m hurdles at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul in March, defied temperatures of just seven degrees and a headwind of 1.1 metres per second to match the A standard Olympic qualifying time for the 110m hurdles, 13.52sec.

"To get the A standard here, where I hope to come and compete again, is great," said Pozzi, a training partner of world 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene under the direction of Malcolm Arnold at the University of Bath. "Given the conditions, I wouldn't have thought I'd run quite so quick."

According to Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, winner of the 100m in 10.42sec on Saturday night, the Mondo synthetic track in the 80,000-seater stadium will produce some quick times when the world's best come to run on it in August.

Asked whether it might yield a world record for Usain Bolt, Aikines-Aryeetey replied: "You'd imagine so. If he's in that shape and in that mood and there's a bit of sunshine. I think the track is ready for that. It's definitely going to be a fast Olympics."

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