Hall Green high jumper Tom Parsons is aiming to set a lifetime best at this weekend's Norwich Union World Indoor Trials and National Championships in Sheffield and in doing so move a step closer to making his Olympic dream become a reality.
The Birchfield Harrier (pictured) made an outstanding start to his season on Sunday when he won the Birmingham Games, beating national rivals Adam Scarr and Robbie Grabarz, with a respectable height of 2.24 metres and going close to a clearance at 2.27m.
That would have put him within two centimetres of his personal best and just three from attaining the qualifying standard of 2.30m that will give him a chance to go to the World Indoor Championships in Valencia next month, but more importantly Beijing in the summer.
He hopes to clear 2.30m at the English Institute of Sport and join Martyn Bernard and Germaine Mason as the only two Britons to have attained the requisite height.
Although it is early in his season and he lost four weeks having sprained his ankle in January, Parsons is not only confident he will be able to set a new personal best, but anxious to do it as soon as possible.
"I have been told I'll have to clear 2.30m because the other two guys have already done it. It'd be a massive pressure off me if I could get it indoors," he said.
"If I do that, I'll be able to go to Valencia and that would be another experience of a major championships. I know it's in there. With my third go at 2.27m on Sunday, I was above the bar by quite a distance, I just came down on it. If I can just address a couple of technical issues, the power and the strength are there."
If Parsons can't make it in Sheffield, he will get a chance on home territory on February 16 when the Indoor Grand Prix comes to the National Indoor Arena and where he will go head to head with Bernard and Swedish legend Stefan Holm. "The atmosphere on Sunday was a bit flat and I still went close to 2.27m, but the atmosphere for the Grand Prix should be amazing. That'll help me."
If, or when, Parsons clears 2.30m it would confirm his rise to the vanguard of the sport, not just in this country but in international terms too. After having a frustrating first part of last season and even considering retiring after a dire indoor campaign, the 23-year-old produced a massive PB at a low-key event in Perry Barr and then followed that up with a second good performance in the Netherlands in August. That earned him selection for the World Championships in Osaka where he produced an incredible 2.29m in qualifying and finished tenth in the final.
As a result he has been granted more support by UK Athletics and was just returned from warm-weather training in South Africa where he was a member of the party that included some of Britain's best competitors. He was, however, restricted to rehabilitation work after his ankle injury in what was an otherwise uninterrupted winter training period.
"I feel really good now," Parsons said. "It was brilliant being out in South Africa, even though it rained a lot, just being around high-quality athletes helped me recover from what was supposed to be a four-to-six week injury in just four."
Sunday was also a good day for Parsons' fellow Stag Dan Cossins who won the 200m in 21.57 seconds. On Saturday, there were victories for Halesowen's Nick Cruchley who cleared 4.60m to win the pole vault and Amy Harris whose 6.06m was good enough to take the long jump by half-a-metre.
High jumper Jessica Leach set a personal best of 1.80m to claim the high jump on count-back from rival Stephanie Pywell and there was also a 60m PB of 6.93secs for youngster Ryan Farrington who came fifth in a semi final won by eventual champion Dwain Chambers.