Luton athlete Jo Blair claimed a superb gold medal at the British Athletics Championships javelin in Birmingham on Sunday.
Up against a field that included Olympian Goldie Sayers, the 30-year-old produced a lifetime best throw of 57.44m, the seventh best ever by a British female, to defeat her main rival, who could only manage 54.98m in response.
On her success, Blair said: “It was a really exciting day and I am thrilled to have won the British Championships, Olympic and European Trials.
“It was a party atmosphere, a good crowd turned up and there were some big names competing to reach the Rio qualifying standards.
“Goldie has had a tough time in recent years with various injuries and I have massive respect for her to come out and try throwing the Olympic qualification standard of 62m.
“My main aim was to try and throw the European Championships entry standard which is 60m.
“I entered the competition in two minds. I was nervous because I had not competed since the Loughborough International end of May due to minor injury niggles and I had chosen not to compete because I did not want to risk further injury in the lead up to the British Championships.
“However, I also entered quietly confident as I threw very close to 60 metres whilst warm weather training in Cyprus the previous week.
“Training and competition, however, are two completely different worlds.”
On the event itself, Blair continued: “I felt that everybody including Goldie started off the competition very nervously.
“Nobody started the competition with anything spectacular and the leader was a previous 60m thrower, Laura Whittingham, who led the first round with 50.97m.
“There was a swirling head wind and I threw a disappointing distance of 50.73m.
“The second throw was when I threw my PB of 57.44m to take the lead and win the competition. I tried everything I could to try and throw 60m throughout the rest of the competition.
“But, technically with my run up, my timing was out and the technique I have recently learnt just was not quite there.
“I tensed up, went back to old habits and was trying too hard.
“Goldie (with a PB of 66.17m) was far from her best and came away with 54.98m overall to get second place.”
Blair is now determined to give herself every chance of throwing the required 62m on two separate occasions to be part of the GB team for the Olympic Games in Rio during August.
She added: “I have watched my throwing technique since and there are various areas that I need to work on before it becomes automatic.
“I can see that the lack of competing has made me ring rusty but I am clear in my mind where simple things in the technique can be easily improved.
“I believe that selection for the Olympic team is within two to three weeks time.
“I have a UK Women’s League competition meeting in Lee Valley this weekend and after a bit more training I really hope to get closer to the mark.
“There are various other international meetings in July that I hope to be competing in.
“These include the Loughborough Athletics Permit Meeting on July 16 and London Anniversary Games at the Olympic Park stadium, if I get invited, on July 22-24.”
Despite winning the event, Blair was not selected for the GB team to head to the European Championships in Holland next month, with Sayers earning the only javelin spot.