The Russians are coming. Six months after Jessica Ennis was relieved of her World Championship heptathlon crown by Tatyana Chernova, another potential golden girl of the multi-events scene happens to be emerging from within the boundaries of the Russian Federation. Competing in Moscow last week, the previously unheralded Ekaterina Bolshova won her national pentathlon championship with a score of 4,896 points – 41 more than Chernova has ever amassed.
Not that Ennis is quaking in her shoes, four weeks out from the defence of her world indoor pentathlon title in Istanbul, and five months away from some global competition or other down London way. On the evidence of her polished form on Sheffield home ground over the two days of the Aviva Trials and UK Indoor Championships, the great all-rounder from the republic of South Yorkshire will be giving those Reds some sleepless nights in their beds.
On Saturday, the 26-year-old Sheffielder won the high jump with 1.91m, a height she achieved just once in the whole of 2011. Yesterday she clocked 7.94sec in the heats of the 60m hurdles, just 0.01sec shy of her lifetime best, and matched it with her winning time in the final. It ranks her joint fifth in the world in 2012, alongside Danielle Carruthers, the American who took the 100m hurdles silver medal at the World Championships in Daegu last summer.
"To run two times like that back to back is very pleasing," Ennis reflected. "It's been a good weekend."
It was on the same weekend last year that Ennis suffered the Achilles tendon problem that disrupted her preparations for the 2011 outdoor season and contributed towards her below-par, silver-medal display in Daegu. Twelve months on, she is ahead of the game.
So is Dwain Chambers, in at least one respect. A year ago the Belgrave Harrier was not even thinking of the London Olympics. However, the rescinding of the International Olympic Committee ban on returning doping offenders and the fact that the British Olympic Association's lifetime bar on the selection of drug takers is to be considered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport next month has put the home Games on the horizon for the 33-year-old Londoner.
Yesterday Chambers won the national indoor 60m title for the fifth successive year, clocking 6.58sec.
It was Chambers' slowest winning time in the event, yet such was his momentum he shot through the crash barrier and almost dropped behind the banked track.
Asked about the Olympics, Chambers did not get too ahead of himself. "That is in my mind but it's out of my hands," he said. "I have to prepare and if the door opens at least I will be ready to compete to the best of my ability." Four years ago, Chambers lost a High Court fight against the BOA ruling on the eve of the Beijing Olympics. "I am grateful that this time I am not taking the fight," Chambers said. "I don't want to be in court."
In the years since the last Olympics, Jeanette Kwakye has endured a long fight against injury. However, the 28-year-old East Ender, who lives near the 2012 stadium in Stratford, is getting back to the shape that got her into the 100m final in Beijing in 2008. Yesterday she was a clear winner of the women's 60m, clocking 7.20sec.
It was also a good day for the young guns, Holly Bleasdale maintaining her world-class form with a winning 4.70m clearance in the pole vault, Joe Thomas winning the 800m in 1min 47.26sec and teenager Andrew Pozzi prevailing in the 60m hurdles in 7.62sec.