City of Portsmouth ace Mandy Gault booked an invite to the Aviva British Olympic Trials with a new personal best in the county 400m hurdles final.
The 28-year-old finished second in a time of 62.45secs, just behind winner Rachel Smith from Southampton (61.99).
But it was enough for Gault to earn a place at the Olympic trials in Birmingham next month – in her first full season competing in the event.
Persistent injuries have prevented the former Northern Ireland international from taking part in her favoured competition – the long jump.
However, Gault has made the transition look easy and is delighted to be making her mark over one lap of the track.
‘My time yesterday was a major boost considering it’s five seconds faster than my first race of the season in the Southern League,’ she said.
‘I wasn’t really that confident going into the race as my training has been intermittent recently, with me not being able to complete my sessions.
‘But the times I have been running in training have given me plenty of encouragement.
‘So I knew I had a good race in me at some point.
‘I got my stride pattern right for all but one hurdle yesterday and was closing Rachel down in the home straight. She is an excellent 400m hurdler and good on the flats, too.
‘So to be able to run her close to the title was a good achievement.
‘I’m disappointed to have come second.
‘I feel I could have improved over the first 200m.
‘But can take a lot of positives out of my race.
‘To achieve a new PB and the qualifying time for the trials in only my second race of the season means I’ve already surpassed my goal for 2012.’
Gault added she wouldn’t be overawed by the prospect of competing against Britain’s best in Birmingham next month.
‘It will be a daunting experience as I’ve never competed in the outdoor trials,’ she said.
‘I’ve competed in the British indoor trials in Sheffield for the world indoors in the long jump but this is new to me.
‘I’m excited by the prospect and can’t wait to get out there and race again.’