Jessica Ennis-Hill is back! The relief for both her and British Athletics must be palpable after almost two years away from competitive action. She returned to the sport yesterday in the slightly surreal surroundings of the city centre of Manchester, to compete in the 100m hurdles. Thankfully she came through the event unscathed and looking quite sharp, recording a pleasing 13.14 seconds for third place. Elsewhere, there were other promising performances for Britain's medal hopes in the summer, as Greg Rutherford and Katarina Johnson-Thompson gave the enthusiastic fans plenty to cheer about.

The concept of the Great City Games is to bring the sport to the masses. Put the action right in the heart of the major cities. So instead of shoppers and food connoisseurs being on Deansgate on a Saturday afternoon, there were sports' fans there to watch their heroes and heroines in action.

'Go Jess' placards were held aloft as Britain's reigning Olympic heptathlon champion took to her blocks. It wasn't quite the fairy tale outcome that many would have hoped for, but there were positive signs for the season ahead. Although her time was over half a second outside her best, the conditions were not entirely conducive to quick times. Many others were also down on their peak performances and the athletes have plenty of time to improve, in what promises to be a long season.

Ahead of her were two athletes who will seek to excel in the individual sprint hurdles this season. British record holder Tiffany Porter finished first into a slight headwind well under 13 seconds, the benchmark for top class women's hurdling. Behind Ms Porter was the highly promising 20-year-old Lucy Hatton, who had impressed earlier in the year by taking silver at the European Championships' 60m hurdles indoors.

Not too shabby a return by Jess then, after injury problems and then the birth of her son Reggie (now nine months old).

Ennis-Hill's return may have grabbed the attention of the media, but there were other notable athletes on show in Manchester. Indeed, her main British rival for heptathlon honours in the future also opted for a run-out over the hurdles.

Johnson-Thompson took the gold and almost the world record indoors at the Euros in the pentathlon, with gold at the World Championships in Beijing her main aim this year. Racing in the rarely contested 200m hurdles event, she stuttered over the final barrier to allow fellow Brit Meghan Beesley to edge her out in a close finish.

Further optimism for British female sprinting was provided by Dina Asher-Smith in the 150m. She claimed the scalp of double European (outdoor) champion Dafne Schippers to take the victory.

Greg Rutherford is another athlete looking for World Championships' honours in China this summer. The reigning Olympic, Commonwealth and European (outdoor) champion was a classy winner of his specialist event, the long jump. A relatively modest 8.01m proved sufficient on the day.