Pointers from the Palace

  • By: Chris Hammer
  • Last Updated: July 16 2012, 14:03 BST

The Diamond League meeting at Crystal Palace over the weekend provided the last chance for many athletes to showcase their form and fitness ahead of a slightly more important return to London early next month.

  • Ohuruogu: Superb victory at Crystal Palace
  • Goldie Sayers: Set a new British record 
  • Perri Shakes-Drayton: Set a new personal best 
  • Dwain Chambers: Has work to do 
  • Mo Farah: In top form for London 
  • Tomlinson: Showing signs of form at the right time 
  • Sally Pearson: Suffered a shock defeat 
  • Tiffany Porter: Left the track in tears 
  • Phillips Idowu: Decided not to compete 
  • Robbie Grabarz: Failed to sparkle 

While some laid down encouraging markers as to what the world can now expect of them on the greatest stage of all - others learned they have plenty of work to do in just a few weeks if they're to fulfil their Olympic dreams.

And for one 'invisible' man in particular, the guessing game continues.

Here we look at the pick of the winners and losers from a wet weekend at the Palace.


Mo Farah - 5,000m

Once again Mo Farah underlined his status as one of Britain's best hopes for gold in the Olympic Stadium with a supremely confident victory over 5,000m, using his devastating kick for home to leave the field trailing far in his wake. The 29-year-old, who will also compete in the 10,000m at London 2012, was happy with his performance and time of 13:06.04 in the rain as he delighted the crowd with his 'Mobot' celebration and now he's off to Font Romeu for more of the serious hard work which has helped him rise to prominence over the past few years. Some may look at the leading times for the 5,000m this year and see his season's best some 10 seconds off the pace but that's an irrelevant statistic for championship running. The European and world gold medallist has already proved many times before he can live with anyone over both distances and possesses the finishing speed to become a legend this summer.

Perri Shakes-Drayton - 400m hurdles

In the build-up to Crystal Palace, Londoner Perri Shakes-Drayton suggested this summer's Olympics are perhaps too soon in her career to challenge for a medal and is instead viewing the 2014 Games in Rio as her best chance. The 23-year-old hadn't set a personal best since her surprise European bronze in 2010 while her quickest time of 55.25 seconds this season left her 21st in the world rankings. But just one lap on Friday night has seemingly changed everything as she clocked a stunning 53.77 to not only smash her PB but set the joint-second quickest time in the world this year alongside Russia's Irina Davydova, who she beat in the process. It's amazing how expectations can suddenly change on the back of just one performance but hopefully this will be a sign of more to come rather than just a flash in the pan.

Goldie Sayers - Javelin

Goldie Sayers had been trying to break her own British javelin record since finishing fourth at the Beijing Games in 2008 and on Saturday the wait finally ended with a superb throw of 66.17metres, which was also enough to beat Olympic champion and world record holder Barbora Spotakova. That distance would have been enough to medal in Beijing and at every major championships since then except for last year's worlds - so a repeat performance could well see Sayers standing on the podium next month. The 10-time national champion is seeking her first medal on the global stage and who's to say it can't now happen at the pinnacle of her career?

Christine Ohuruogu - 400m

Christine Ohuruogu sure knows how to come good when it really matters and Saturday's stirring victory in the pouring rain was a timely reminder that a second Olympic gold is potentially on the cards. The defending champion had suffered a fall from grace since Beijing due to a combination of injuries and loss of form - as well as a false start at last year's World Championships in Daegu - but after four long years it might just all be coming right again. Ohuruogu's winning time of 50.42 seconds was her best for three years despite the dreadful conditions and puddles on the track while she also overpowered world champion Amantle Montsho down the home straight for a notable scalp. Winning a world or Olympic gold - as she already knows - is all about peaking at the perfect time and she seems in a much better position to do that now than at any point since her past glories.

Chris Tomlinson - Long jump

Chris Tomlinson didn't win the long jump competition but an encouraging leap of 8.26m was a timely return to some kind of form after a season which had previously been ruined by injury. The 30-year-old has perhaps become the forgotten man of the pit this year after struggling to make any kind of an impression while Greg Rutherford's world-leading exploits saw him being tipped as the likely challenger to the likes of Australia's Mitchell Watt this summer. Tomlinson finished second at Crystal Palace thanks to his final effort of the competition with world silver medallist Watt just two centimetres longer and if he can take confidence from this then there's no reason why he can't be one of the success stories in London.


Phillips Idowu - Triple jump

Mystery and controversy always seems to surround Phillips Idowu and this weekend was no different when he withdrew from Saturday's triple jump, sparking fears that injury problems will indeed wreck his hopes of gold. Three days earlier the Olympic silver-medallist had insisted injury was not behind his long absence, which dates back to June 1, so it was no surprise to see this latest no-show hyped up by the British media. Idowu, who has competed just three times this year, is clearly taking no risks in his bid to be fully fit at the right time while it's completely feasible that his self-confessed 'invisibility' is just his unique way of not only ensuring his rivals remain blind to him but also reducing expectations of others . Don't forget, back in Beijing many observers argued he struggled to cope with the mountain of pressure on his shoulders and although the following year he won world gold, he would rather jump in London knowing most people are tipping him to fail. However, he's not pulling the wool over reigning world champion Christian Taylor's eyes and the American said after his impressive win at Crystal Palace: "Unfortunately here would have been a nice little preview to see where he is, but maybe he's keeping that a secret." We also fully expect him to challenge for top spot on the podium in a few weeks' time.

Dwain Chambers - 100m/4x100m

Dwain Chambers was unable to make the most of his first appearance at Crystal Palace for nine years - and a rare opportunity to come up against some of the world's best - as he failed to reach the final of the 100m, which was eventually won by Tyson Gay in an underwhelming 10.03 seconds. However, that time seems light years away from the British champion right now and he was the first to admit he has plenty of work to do over the next few weeks if he's to even make the semi-finals at the Olympics. Chambers is just happy to be going to the Games after years of thinking he would be banned and while there's little chance of him medalling in the individual event, the 4x100m relay at least provides him with a far more realistic chance of podium a finish - if they bring the speed of teenage star Adam Gemili into the line-up . The quartet of Chambers, Christian Malcolm, Mark Lewis-Francis and James Ellington got the baton round at Crystal Palace having dropped it at the recent European Championships but could only finish a disappointing fourth behind Trinidad and Tobago, Netherlands and Poland.

Robbie Grabarz - high jump

The previously unheralded Robbie Grabarz leapt from zero to hero with a series of impressive jumps both indoor and outdoor earlier this year but there are now suggestions he might have peaked too early following a poor showing at Crystal Palace. The 24-year-old, who became Britain's first European high jump champion for 62 years in Helsinki last month, failed to clear 2.26m albeit in difficult conditions so he'll need to rediscover his early-season form if he's to stand a chance of challenging for Games glory. But Grabarz has bounced back brilliantly before having lost his lottery funding last year so he clearly has the strength of character to pull out his best once again when it really matters.

Tiffany Porter - 100m hurdles

Tiffany Porter was in floods of tears after pulling up after the sixth hurdle of her 100m hurdles heat at Crystal Palace and she now faces a serious race against time to be fully fit for the Olympics. The 24-year-old has been troubled by a back problem this year and a flare-up so close to the Games is a real worry for the British team, who were looking to her to clinch one of the targeted eight track and field medals this summer. If the world indoor silver medallist can make a swift recovery then she'll have every chance of going one better than her fourth position in Daegu last summer - but for now Porter's 2012 looks as though it's heading towards bitter disappointment.

Sally Pearson - 100m hurdles

The Olympic gold medal has already been hung around the neck of Australia's 100m hurdles sensation Sally Pearson in many quarters, with the only question being whether she can break the 24-year-old world record of 12.21 seconds this summer. However, the event may now not seem such a foregone conclusion after all following her shock defeat to American Kellie Wells on Saturday. The world champion, who headed to Crystal Palace on the back of 31 wins from her previous 32 races, refused to talk to reporters afterwards as she stormed through the media room while a delighted Wells was keen to remind everyone just how tricky the hurdles can be, saying: "If you make one mistake it can take you out of the race." Maybe this was the mishap Pearson needed to ensure she takes nothing for granted on her return to London.