Olympic bronze medal winner Kelly Sotherton nursed herself back into competitive action at the Aviva World Trials and UK Championships and, in doing so, gave her boldest statement of intent this year.
The heptathlete, who finished third in Athens, has been labouring with a foot injury for most of the season and until three days ago had managed just one shot putt competition outdoors this summer.
But with the IAAF World Championships in just five weeks time and the Birchfield Harrier still uncertain of her fitness, she made a positive, if cautious return to action over two days of action at the Alexander Stadium.
And although she opted out of the dreaded javelin late on, with three completed events Sotherton claimed to be pleased with her efforts even though she is still some way off heading to Berlin with anything like the expectation that followed her to Beijing last August.
That might be a good thing. Sotherton went to the last Olympics as the favourite to capitalise on Carolina Kluft’s absence and claim her first global gold.
But she only managed fourth and after several months of injury she has slipped way down the international and domestic pecking order.
Indeed with compatriot Jessica Ennis lording it over all and sundry, the 32-year-old has maintained that she may not even compete in Germany if she doesn’t feel she will do herself justice.
That possibility at least appeared to recede yesterday when she confirmed her intention to go to the Worlds.
“Most definitely, I am definitely hoping to be a contender,” Sotherton said. “I think I have shown that this weekend. I just hope the next five weeks go well for me. I am in good shape now, I want to stay that way.
“I’ve achieved all my goals this weekend. It’s actually my best performance at a trials even though I haven’t won anything.
“This was really my first test, my shot was fantastic, I had some good solid throws. My long jump was really good too, I got some good distances and off a short run-up.
“And my aim on Sunday was to bang out a 1.82m and then finish. I know I don’t have to push myself right now.”
While it is difficult to accept a long jump of 6.22m is anything near her best, particularly one that restricted her to fifth place in an event she used to win, she will be happy with five 14m plus throws in the shot.
Indeed the 14.51m she produced was one of the best of her career and was backed up with efforts of 14.43m and 14.23m.
Fellow heptathlete and Harrier Louise Hazel also professed herself content.
“It’s been brilliant,” Hazel said. “I was a bit down on my long jump but the wind was all over the place. But I was really pleased with my hurdles. I would have taken 13.50secs at the start and it could have been a PB if I’d got a better start.”
The 23-year-old is still uncertain of her place at the World Championships despite last month breaking 6000 points for the first time.
Hazel managed a respectable 6.07m in the long jump and an impressive fifth in the 100m hurdles.
Birchfield athletes Brett Morse and Vicki Hubbard claimed silver medals in the discus and high jump respectively, while Jonathan Moore took bronze in the long jump with 7.52m.
Birmingham-based triple jumpers Phillips Idowu and Nathan Douglas claimed first and second with a pair of 17m plus leaps.