Nathan Douglas is hoping the high class field in Crystal Palace this evening will propel him straight into the team for next month’s World Championships.
The Birmingham-based triple jumper still needs the A standard qualifying distance of 17.10 metres to be sure of making the trip to Berlin in three weeks time.
And in a competition where he is one of seven entrants to have exceeded the world class 17m mark his season, Douglas is confident he can be inspired to find not only the 9cm he needs to guarantee his seat on the plane, but a whole lot more in the process.
That would put him back among the elite in a tight event where the top five exponents in the world are separated by just 5cm.
One of those is compatriot and Olympic silver medallist Phillips Idowu and another Cuba’s David Giralt, both of whom will challenge Beijing champion Nelson Evora for the world crown next month and both of whom Douglas will face at tonight’s Aviva London Grand Prix.
And Douglas is keen to re-join the best after a couple of years of injury-hit underachievement since he took European silver in 2006.
“I’ve had an indifferent start this season but I feel I am coming into form at the right time,” the Erdington resident said.
“It is a fairly juicy field, which only adds to the excitement. Most of the biggest jumpers in the world are there and that will help. The whole season has been like taking baby-steps so if I can keep progressing I will be happy with that, especially if it’s something in the 17.20s.”
Douglas’ best so far this summer is the 17.01m effort with which he finished runner-up to Idowu at the World Trials and UK Championships in Birmingham a fortnight ago.
That was his first 17m plus effort for a year and came after making technical changes to his take-off.
It also comes on the back of a disappointing campaign last summer in which he failed to make the final in China.
“The Olympics were a difficult experience,” he said. “I was not sure I would make the team because of the effect of a hamstring injury. A lot of people didn’t believe I’d even get that far so I was happy in that respect.
“But with a bad knee I wasn’t able to jump much beforehand. Even with a day to go I was being told I had to do some jumping but I was so worried my knee would lock and put me out of qualifying.”
That didn’t happen but neither did the leap of 17.10m that would have made it three Britons in the final as Larry Achike joined Idowu.
As a result the 26-year-old is refusing to make any rash predictions.
“I can’t afford to think beyond Crystal Palace never mind as far ahead as the World Championships,” he said.
“All I will say is that if I get there anything could happen. Most guys there will be capable of jumping 17.50 or 17.60m and that could win it..”
Also striving to press their claims for Berlin are Birchfield high jumpers Germaine Mason and Tom Parsons and Coventry’s Marlon Devonish in the 200m.
n?Catch Douglas and other top athletes including treble Olympic Champion Usain Bolt at Crystal Place this weekend. Event timings tonight are 5.30pm to 8.30pm; Saturday 2pm to 5.40pm. Tickets are available at uka.org.uk or 0800 055 6056.