European indoor 60m champion is confident of more individual success, starting with the British trials
Asha Philip will kick off Saturday’s SPAR British Indoor Championships in Birmingham full of confidence from a season which has gone perfectly to plan thus far – and a firm belief she has what it takes to be a serious individual contender on the global stage.
The 27-year-old has Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth medals to her name but they were all won as part of 4x100m relay teams. Therefore, the significance of her first major individual honour as a senior athlete – becoming European indoor champion over 60m last year – has been huge.
It’s a little over 10 years since Philip became 100m world youth champion and grabbed the athletics world’s attention. However, shortly afterwards she suffered a serious knee ligament injury while competing for her country at the World Trampolining Championships which stopped her from competing for three years.
Yet she has come through the fallout from all of that and looks clear favourite to successfully defend her British indoor title and head into the forthcoming IAAF World Indoor Championships with a speedy spring in her step.
“Lots of people didn’t believe, following my injury, that I would make it back,” says Philip. “The fact that I’ve been to the Olympics, I’ve been to the World Championships, to the European Championships and now I’ve got my first ever individual medal it proved to me that I am capable of doing more and being a part of this environment.
“I feel the fact that people doubted me has made me a stronger person. It’s been 10 years since my injury and I feel like it’s given me another boost or another kick on in life and in my sport.”
The women’s 60m heats open the schedule at the British trials and will serve as a particularly useful experience for those home athletes who will return to the Arena Birmingham venue at the beginning of March to contest the World Indoors.
“Every time I’ve thought about the indoor championships I feel like it’s more of a catwalk, with all the lights and it’s so much more enclosed,” says Philip. “Indoors is very intimate so to get this chance to race (in Birmingham) will give me a good feel of what to expect at the world championships.”
The crowd can expect Philip to be quick this weekend. The British 60m record-holder (7.06) has already clocked recent times of 7.17 and 7.12.
So, with such little time to think, what is the key to racing a good 60m?
“It’s definitely staying relaxed,” she says. “You can kind of panic. Because it’s so short there’s no room for error so, the more relaxed and patient you are and the more you can trust in yourself, that is the key. You have to control your nerves and run your race, rather than worrying about anyone else.”
She adds: “It’s about how you distribute your energy throughout the track. I used to have the approach that, because it’s 60m, you just (aim to) get to the line first. It’s not that it’s tactical but it just comes down to how you handle the race.
“The season’s gone really well. I feel like I’m in really good shape. Hopefully the British champs will go really well and then bring it on for the world championships.”
» The SPAR British Indoor Championships will be live on the BBC red button, website and mobile app. Coverage starts at 11.45am on February 17