Wigan Harrier Jenny Meadows could only manage fourth-place in the 800 metres final at the Indoor British Championships in Sheffield on Sunday, admitting afterwards her days as a force were behind her.
Adelle Tracey, a self-funded hair and make-up artist, shocked her more established rivals to take gold.
The 22-year-old, a torch-bearer at the London 2012 opening ceremony, secured her place on a Great Britain team for a major senior championships for the first time as victory over the likes of Lynsey Sharp and 34-year-old Meadows sealed qualification for next month’s World Indoor Championships in Portland.
Tracey finished strongly at the English Institute of Sport to overhaul the fading Sharp in the home straight, crossing the line in two minutes 02.99 seconds.
Sharp, who tops the British rankings, had to settle for third in 2mins 03.50secs, with Meadows’ training partner Leah Barrow also coming past her to finish in 2:03.18.
Tracey, who has been training in Kenya over the winter, said: “I’ll be so happy to wear my first senior vest and to do it so early in the season is amazing. I’m working part time as a freelance hair and make-up artist and it’s good because it fits around my training. I do prosthetics and model making as well, so it’s very diverse.
“I did Lenny Waite’s wedding this summer and Andy Vernon’s wife and Gemma Hillier-Moses (all fellow athletes), because it works very well with training, it’s just one morning. But I’ve done stuff for Dr Who and Top Gear.”
Tracey, who receives no National Lottery funding, is also in the final year of studying sports science at St Mary’s University, having previously studied at Arts University Bournemouth.
Tracey was nominated by Kelly Holmes to be one of seven young British athletes to light the Olympic flame in London four years ago and described the experience as “mad”.
Sharp would appear to be in pole position to get the second discretionary spot on the team for Portland, but said she was undecided over whether she would make the trip.
The global event will take place without Russian athletes, with the country banned by world governing body the IAAF over state-sponsored doping.
But Sharp, who was belatedly awarded the European title in 2012 when Russia’s Yelena Arzhakova was exposed as a drug cheat, said: “You can’t win really, because if they aren’t there then everyone will look back and say it was an easy championships because the Russians weren’t there.”
Meadows herself faded in the final 100m to finish fourth in 2:03.81.