Grey skies are lifted as Holmes hits her stride

Kelly Holmes brought a warm glow to an unseasonably grey and blustery day in Birmingham that left many of Britain's prospective Olympians, notably the sprinters, with a chilly feeling. The 34-year-old Olympic 800 metres bronze medallist left the world's fastest woman this year, Slovenia's European champion Jolanda Ceplak, six metres adrift in the Norwich Union International here after bursting clear around the final bend.

It was the ideal performance for an athlete who has recently complained of a lack of confidence, although Holmes, who won in 2min 00.46sec, still appears set on running the 1500m in Athens rather than doubling up.

In defeating Ceplak - the woman she accused of resorting to illegal means two years ago after she had beaten her in the European Championships - she registered an impressive marker, especially as the Slovenian has run 1:57.68 this year. Yesterday she managed only 2:01.75.

With her training partner, the Olympic and world 800m champion Maria Mutola, struggling with a hamstring injury, the signs appear to be pointing Holmes back towards the event that has earned her Olympic bronze and world championship silver. But with 1500m races coming up at Crystal Palace on Friday, and in Zurich the week after, she is keeping an open mind.

"I'm really pleased," she said. "I didn't think I would beat Ceplak by that much. But it doesn't mean the doubts I've had in the 1500m will go away. It's a stressful time with the Olympics so close, and I've been doubting myself recently."

This, surely, was a performance to banish doubts - even for an athlete who has been prey to sudden and inexplicable dips in confidence over the years.

The Russian Yelena Isinbayeva also ended the day on a high after emerging from the cocoon of her duvet to register a pole vault of 4.89 metres, her sixth world record and her third on these shores.

Britain's male sprinters, however, were left out in the cold as they were well beaten in the individual event by the world champion, Kim Collins, and lost out to a team of US reserves in the relay. Collins provided further evidence to back up his predictions about adding the Olympic title to his Commonwealth and World championships.

The outspoken 28-year-old from St Kitt's and Nevis crossed the line in the 100m with a wide smile on his face, finishing well clear in a time of 10.10sec which was assisted by a following wind of 2.6 metres per second.

Mark Lewis-Francis, running as a guest on his home track, finished second in 10.27, trials winner Jason Gardener fifth in 10.34 and Darren Campbell, whose commitment was undermined by a false start and a broken shoe strapping, sixth in 10.37. Campbell later pulled out of the sprint relay as a precaution because of a painful Achilles tendon.

After the race, Collins explained the generally slow times being run in the 100m this season with what was presumably a reference to increased vigilance on the doping front.

"In the days when Linford Christie was running, nobody ran under 10 seconds before major championships," he said. "Now it's normal times for normal people."

It was a poor show from the British men, although Lewis-Francis, who only finished third in the Olympic trials and AAA Championships, was looking on the bright side. "I said it at the AAA Championships - I always believed I am the fastest man in Britain and I think that has gone a long way to proving it."

Isinbayeva had raised the world record to 4.87m at Gateshead on 27 June, her second successive world mark at the North-east venue, only to see bitter Russian rival, Svetlana Feofanova, go a centimetre higher a week later.

The former gymnast celebrated her latest advance in characteristic style, performing a backflip and then handing out signed photographs to spectators sitting in the back-straight seats alongside the pole vault runway. Asked what she intended to do with the third $50,000 world record cheque she has received in Britain in the past couple of years, she said: "I buy shoes."

The 400m provided further hopeful signs for two British athletes who have emerged this season, European Cup winner Tim Benjamin and Olympic trials winner Christine Ohuruogu, as both finished in second place behind athletes strongly fancied to challenge for Olympic medals.

Benjamin, breathless as usual after finishing in 46.34sec, talked about the "horrible weather", but he battled to the end to finish ahead of the Americans who finished second and third in the US Olympic trials, Derrick Brew and Adam Steele, and a couple of strides adrift of Jamaica's Commonwealth champion Michael Blackwood, who won in 46.08.

Ohuruogu finished strongly, just as at the Manchester trials two weeks earlier, moving from fourth to second in the final 30 metres and clocking 52.14sec, her second fastest time, behind Allison Beckford's 51.85sec.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen