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Beagles star Asha is going for European indoor gold and coach can't believe it!

PUBLISHED: 15:01 03 March 2017

Asha Philips in the womens 60m heats during day one of the British Athletics Indoor Team Trials at the English Institute of Sport, Sheffield.

Asha Philips in the womens 60m heats during day one of the British Athletics Indoor Team Trials at the English Institute of Sport, Sheffield.

PA Wire/PA Images

Asha Philip's former coach Carl Graham is hoping for a medal in Belgrade for the Beagles sprinter

Carl Graham of Newham & Essex BeaglesCarl Graham of Newham & Essex Beagles

Beagles sprint star Asha Philip goes for gold at the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade at the weekend and there is one man who can’t believe that she is going to be there in the first place.

Carl Graham is her former coach at Newham and he was there when she suffered a terrible injury while trampolining which could have ended her career.

“I think what the greatest thing is for Asha is how she came back from her injury,” said Graham as he looked over the latest batch of Beagles youngsters at the Minithon Games at Lee Valley on Saturday.

“I don’t think she realised just how serious her injury was, but the amazing thing is how she has come back to reach the standard she is at now.

“For me, she would have conquered the world. It was her last jump in the mini trampoline event.”

Carl has been coaching at the Beagles for 20 years now and he revealed that he really just stumbled into it.

Asha Philip celebrates winning the British title at SheffieldAsha Philip celebrates winning the British title at Sheffield

“My daughter ran for them, I just got into it because of her, I started coaching and now there have been too many athletes to mention and I just keep going,” he said.

Philip was one of his charges, so did she always have that potential to reach the top?

Graham nods, adding: “I thought so from the get-go.

“You would not bet against her in the final of an event. She was, for want of a better word, an animal. Sorry Asha! – in a final she just rose to the occasion.”

For those who don’t know, back in 2007, Philip fell awkwardly on her dismount from the trampoline at the World Championships in Quebec and ruptured the cruciate ligament in her right knee.

Philip had won the World Junior Championships in Ostrava earlier that year, while Graham remembers a younger Asha at the Worlds the previous year in Beijing.

“We went to China for the World Juniors and in the build up, I said to her, ‘I reckon you can make the relay team’,” he added.

“In the end, she was the only person who made the sprints, no relay team, and we went out there.

“She put her feet the wrong way round in the blocks, driving everybody crazy as Asha does, and then she came off the track finishing fourth at 15, running against 18-year-olds and looked at me and said, ‘you didn’t think I could run that fast did you?’”

That is the spirit that has driven the young Beagle back to the top and after winning the British Indoor title two weeks ago, she will be hoping for a medal in Serbia in the 60m.

Last week in Birmingham she faced some of the world’s elite and could only finish fifth in the Grand Prix event, but the field in Belgrade is not likely to be as testing as that.

“There are doubts there, but that was a world class final, so it probably came at the right time,” explained Graham.

“She has gone through the process, she didn’t run a particularly good race, but she knows that and she probably needed that to get into the zone again.

“If she comes back with a medal, she will be very happy, it just depends on what colour it is.”

If she does then we all know where it all started – in Newham with the Beagles.

Her first round heat is on Saturday morning, with the semi-final and hopefully the final for her on Sunday.

Also in action for the Beagles in Belgrade is high-jumper Robbie Grabarz who is coming into form at just the right time.

His qualifying round will be on Saturday morning with the final the following afternoon.

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