There was never any doubt going into the women's 800m final at the Aviva World Trials and UK Championships yesterday that Jenny Meadows would book her place on the plane to Doha for the World Indoor Championships in the Qatar capital next month. The 5ft 1in "Pocket Rocket" did so in style, blasting clear of her rivals from the gun and winning by 2.03sec from Vicky Griffiths of Liverpool in 2mins 00.91sec – a track record at the compact English Institute of Sports arena and a time only bettered this year by Mariya Savinova of Russia (1:59.23) and by Meadows herself (2:00.71).
Meadows will have to contend with Savinova, who beat her in Moscow last weekend, when she attempts to win a second global medal in seven months.
The athlete who eclipsed the Briton's brilliant bronze-medal run at the outdoor World Championships in Berlin last August, though, will be a notable absentee from the Aspire Dome in the Qatar capital. Caster Semenya has been suspended from competition by Athletics South Africa, pending a decision on her future by the sport's global governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations, who have yet to act upon the results of gender verification tests on the 19-year-old who took the 800m Gold in Berlin in a stunning 1:55.45.
"I've just read that she isn't doing the South African season," Meadows said, when asked about the affair. "The jury's still out. I've tried to stop reading about it and concentrate on myself. If I run against her, I run against her. If I don't, then great, because 1:55 was just absolutely awesome and I'm sure she could better that. I've just got to concentrate on the Russians and the girls I'm facing in Birmingham next week and see who is doing what before Doha."
What Meadows is doing, under the guidance of her husband and coach, Trevor Painter, is building on the breakthrough she made in Berlin. After seven years on the international fringes, at 28 she has become one of the global elite. In what was a de facto time trial yesterday, she might have broken two minutes. Against world-class opposition in the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham next Saturday, she could threaten Kelly Holmes' British indoor record, 1:59.21. "I still keep trying to tell myself how much I've improved," Meadows reflected. "I feel completely different after getting on the podium in Berlin. I'm a lot ahead of where I was this time last year in training."
The same applies to Helen Clitheroe. Meadows' new training partner secured her selection for Doha with a comfortable 1500m win yesterday in 4 min 13.90sec. The best performance of the weekend came in the men's 60m on Saturday, Dwain Chambers prevailing in 6.50sec – the fastest time in the world this year but not good enough to earn the former doping offender the official Performance of the Day award. That went to Joice Maduaka, who followed up her victory in the women's 60m with a win in the 200m yesterday.
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