GEMMA Kersey goes into this weekend’s national under-23 championships feeling in confident mood after returning to the track to win gold at the Southern Championships.

After a flying start to the season that saw her win the British Universities 1,500m title, Kersey missed a few weeks of racing after picking up a slight niggle in her leg.

But she returned to racing to win the 800m Southern title at Crystal Palace in 2m 10.27s and is now looking ahead to this weekend’s championships and then the senior championships the week after.

“It was just a little niggle and I had to take a step back, but it’s all positive again,” said Kersey, of Basildon AC. “It was just a minor bump in the road and I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks.

“I’m actually really excited and can’t wait to get stuck in and find out what shape I’m in.

“I want to try to win at the weekend. I know it will be a tall order but I’ve got nothing to lose and then, the weekend after that I want to try to make the top six at the senior championships.

“Of course, the first aim is to make the final, but my best placing before is top eight so I want to better that.

“The next few weeks are all about racing rather than times for me. That’s what I did at the Southerns and that’s what I’ll do in the next two weeks, and I think that’s when I’m at my best.

“I can start chasing times after that.”

Kersey’s training partners Kaylee Dodd, Adam Hickey and Tom Richardson also had reason to cheer in Crystal Palace, with both Dodd and Richardson winning 800m silver medals.

Richardson clocked 1m 55.47s for second in the senior men’s 800m while Dodd set a season’s best of 2m 8.49s for second in the under-20 women’s two laps, with Thurrock Harriers’ Gemma Holloway sixth in 2m 14.91s.

Hickey was the silver medallist in the 1,500m, finishing in 3m 53.32s, while his Southend AC team-mate Jake King stormed to a silver medal in the 400m (47.81s).

Rayleigh’s Liam Yarwood, who is studying at Loughborough University, was a comfortable winner of the senior men’s pole vault, clearing 4.70m, while his Chelmsford AC team-mate Terry Lucas, from Billericay, won bronze in the under-20 men’s long jump (6.86m).

Chelmsford AC’s Georgia Tuckfield won the under-20 women’s 1,500m (4m 40.72s) with Jess Burgess winning bronze in the 3,000m (10m 21.33s).

Chay Clark, who has recently switched from Thurrock Harriers to Chelmsford, won a bronze medal in the under-20 women’s 400m hurdles (65.91s) and a silver in the high jump (1.60m) while Grays’ Tom Head won bronze in the under-20 men’s hammer (63.26m).

OTHER RESULTS U20 men: James Gillingham (Bas, 200m 22.83s), Robbie Clarricoats (N&EB fourth 110m hurdles, 14.47s).

Senior men: Oliver Best (Sou, 200m 22.83s), Markus Hunt (Sou/Ch. fifth 400m 48.24s), Grant Webb (Bas, 5,000m 16th 15m 35s).

Senior women: Louise Douglass (Bas, 400mh 66.98s), Karen Whitmarsh (Bas, 1,500m 4m 55.99s).