London 2012: Asha Philip hopes to sprint into Olympic final

By Jessica CreightonOlympic sports reporter
London 2012: Sprinter Asha Philip on her "rollercoaster" journey back to fitness

When building work began on the London Olympic Stadium in May 2008, Britain's fastest woman of the year indoors was struggling to get out of bed.

Asha Philip shattered her right knee at the end of 2007 in a trampolining competition and was advised by doctors it would be two years before she could even run again, let alone rejoin elite competition.

The simplest of tasks such as walking and getting out of bed were a struggle for the young sprinter who watched the stadium take shape just a stone's throw from her family home in Leytonstone.

"I suffered with depression but my mum kept me going - she is my rock," Philip, 21, told BBC Sport.

"My family were my backbone; very supportive. My brother, sister, mum and my cousins are like my best friends. They knew how hard it was because I was on crutches all the time, I couldn't do anything."

Philip describes the subsequent years in rehabilitation as a "rollercoaster." The injury was a major disappointment for a promising athlete - the first British woman to win an international 100m title when she lifted World Youth gold in 2007 and also a world champion in double-mini trampoline.

Philip defied the odds to return to the track in 2011, leaving her promising trampolining career behind. But after almost four years out of the sport, warming-up for competitions was an event in itself.

"I was confused about my warm-up, I needed my coach. I asked, 'Can you tell me what to do?' I started to panic. I had to take it in stages - re-learn and realise what was happening," she said.

She has put her new-found process to good use this year, beating Britain's other female sprinting sensation Jodie Williams (whom she used to train with), before posting the fastest indoor time by a British woman over 60m - 7.19s.

"I'm the one to beat, apparently. To say everyone is watching me, it makes me feel better because I was out for so long. I feel like I'm a contender.

Philip was also the best performing British female in the sprints at this year's World Indoor Championships - her first taste of senior international competition - where she was 0.01 seconds from reaching the final.

"It was a bit of a shock when I was out there because I wasn't used to being with all these big athletes or a big crowd. I was overwhelmed by the excitement," she said.

"The more I run with big athletes, the more I will feel comfortable."

Meanwhile, Philip will be focussed on her British rivals for the forthcoming Olympic athletics trials in Birmingham (22-24 June).

Ideally, Philip needs to finish in the top two in the 100m final in a time of 11.29s or better to be assured of automatic qualification for her first Olympic Games.

"That's what everyone dreams about. I'll try my best. I feel confident - that's the best way to be," she said.

Philip's aim is to follow in the footsteps of experienced British sprinter Jeanette Kwakye and reach an Olympic final, as Kwakye did in 2008. No easy task. Last year's World Championship final was won in 10.90s,external-link almost half a second quicker than Philip's best time.

"Girls are running sub-11 seconds now. If I run 11 seconds flat that will be a big PB for me. But if I get to the final anything can happen, so fingers crossed I get there."

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