OLYMPIC bronze medallist Jo Jackson showed a touch of her old form last night to claim her place in a star-studded line-up for tonight’s 200m freestyle final at the British Gas Championships in Manchester.
Olympic double gold medallist Rebecca Adlington led the qualifiers with a winning semi-final time of 1min 59.88sec.
But Welsh record holder Jaz Carlin and Commonwealth record holder Jackson were only 0.01sec and 0.08sec adrift respectively.
The final promises to be a thriller as they and their rivals battle not only for the two available individual places on the British team for the world championships in July but the 4x200m relay squad.
Jackson, from Richmond, who has faced an 18-month battle against asthma and a five-week lay-off due to an ankle injury before Christmas, said: “It felt a lot better than the 400m on Saturday. I felt a lot stronger.
“It’s taking a lot longer than I thought to get back to where I was but I’m getting there gradually.”
Coach Kevin Renshaw said: “She has worked her way into this week. She has shown a lot of fight. She’s really determined.
“It has been a while but things are looking a lot better for her now.”
Steph Proud from Chester-le-Street was named first reserve for the final after finishing ninth in 2:01.64.
City of Newcastle’s 15-year-old Phoebe Lenderyou staked her claim for her second trip to the European Junior Championships when she came eighth in a world-class women’s 100m backstroke final.
Her opponents included world and European champion and world record holder Gemma Spofforth, European silver medallist Lizzie Simmonds, former world champion Katy Sexton, Welsh record holder and Commonwealth medallist Georgia Davies and European junior champion Karley Mann.
Coach Ian Oliver said: “She swam well to get to the final but she was a little anxious and swam a slower time than in the semi-final.
“I hope she will be selected for the European juniors on the basis of what she has already achieved.”
Lenderyou, a finalist at last year’s European junior event, will be back at Ponteland High School tomorrow to take a maths exam before returning to Manchester for the 200m backstroke on Thursday.