STANFORD-LE-HOPE hurdler Hayley McLean stunned herself by running the fastest time of her life in Belgium on Wednesday night – and if she can do the same in France tomorrow she has a real shot of making England’s Commonwealth Games team.
McLean, 19, chopped more than a half-a-second off her previous best 400m hurdles time in Namur, clocking 56.50s as she finished runner-up behind senior GB international Meghan Beesley.
The time ranks her third in the country and fourth in Europe this season, but crucially for the Chelmsford AC athlete, it was a B-standard time for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
It means that is she runs under 57 seconds again in France tomorrow, she will have met the England Athletics criteria of running a B-standard time at least twice before the selectors meet to finalise the squad on Monday.
“I was extremely happy with my race,” said McLean, last year’s European Junior champion.
“I thought perhaps I had dipped under 57 seconds (McLean’s previous best was 57.02s) but I was so shocked when I saw the time was 56.50s!
“I was in the mood to run fast but I didn’t think it would be that fast.”
McLean says the time has given her a huge boost ahead of tomorrow’s race and has lifted some of the pressure off herself.
“I’m very determined to go and run another sub-57 second race tomorrow but I feel more relaxed now so I’m hoping to just go and enjoy this one and hopefully the time will come with it,” she said.
Also hoping to remind England selectors of her talents tomorrow will be Canvey’s Jessica Judd who is taking part in her first Diamond League meeting overseas.
The 19-year-old is scheduled to run the 800m at the Prefontaine Games in Orgeon, USA, to round off a training block in the States.
Judd has been with Britian’s elite middle-distance runners training at altitude in Salt Lake City for the past six weeks and she is looking forward to taking part in her first serious race since the World Championships last August.
"I'm really looking forward to racing, it's been a while so I'm hoping to put in a good performance," she said.
"But it is a long season so it's just about taking each race as it comes and seeing what happens."
Judd has the Commonwealth Games A-standard for the 800m from last season when she set her PB of 1m 59.85s.
But after a spell out injured over the winter, she will be determined to show the selectors she is back near her best tomorrow before they meet to decide the team on Monday.
Judd's race, which is at 3.30am British time on Saturday, has another intriguing factor as she will find herself up against the USA's own teenage phenomenon, Mary Cain.
It will be the first time the two young stars have raced each other over 800m and the first time over any distance since they both ran the 1,500m final at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona in 2012.
On that occassion Judd finished fifth - just days after winning a silver medal for the 800m - and Cain sixth.