On a warm summer’s day at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, GB & NI’s athletes took home four individual wins at the Sainsbury’s Grand Prix – Birmingham, the seventh leg of the 2013 Diamond League series.
Just one week on from her European Athletics Team Championship victory, 18 year old Jessica Judd (Rob Denmark) once again showed maturity beyond her years. She bode her time, sitting off the pacemaker who took the field through the bell in 57 seconds, before launching an assault off the final bend overhauling long-time leader Marilyn Okoro (Johnny Gray) to stop the clock at 1.59.85. This first time Judd had broken the two minute barrier, a performance that earned her the Sainsbury’s performance of the day.
Judd said: “It feels amazing. I was so nervous before – I just can’t believe it. I hadn’t got the A standard until today, so I was putting it all on this race. It was the crowd who got me through that last 20 metres when I was tying up”.
The last event of the day was the one the home crowd were anticipating the most, and double Olympic champion Mo Farah (Alberto Salazar) sent the crowd home happy. The early pace was pretty swift as the pacemakers dragged the field along, but as soon as they dropped out it became a cagey affair, as the in-form Hagos Gebrhiwet and world 10,000m champion Ibrahim Jeilan both waited on Farah’s every move. Farah was patient though, and when he struck for home with 200m to go there was no stopping him, and the crowd went into raptures as he crossed the line and performed his trademark ‘mobot’ celebration.
“It was important that I won the race. It was a really tough field so I’m really pleased I came through it with a victory. It’s important to keep working hard now and get ready for the world championships.”
Two more athletes who are looking forward to the IAAF World Championships in Moscow in August are 400m hurdlers Perri Shakes-Drayton (Chris Zah) and Eilidh Child (Malcolm Arnold), who secured a British one-two in Birmingham today. Both athletes followed up wins in Gateshead last weekend with strong performances, Shakes-Drayton clocking a season’s best of 53.82, whilst Child once again broke her own Scottish record running 54.22.
Shakes-Drayton said: “It’s Birmingham, I love this place. I always seem to run well here and I stuck to that today so I’m pleased.”
In the women’s 400m, Christine Ohuruogu (Lloyd Cowan) finished like a train to pip Amantle Montsho on line, taking victory in 50.63 to Montsho’s 50.64. A British victory really got the crowd going, and Ohuruogu commented: “I’m really pleased, as it’s always good to give the home crowd something to cheer about.”
The men’s 100m was won by Jamaican Nesta Carter, but in second place James Dasaolu (Steve Fudge) followed up a personal best in his heat with another in the final, clocking 10.03 to claim second place. James Ellington also ran a lifetime best of 10.17 to take sixth.
The hurdles races proved to be strong hunting ground for the GB & NI athletes, as Tiffany Porter (Rana Reider) took third in a world class 100mH field, beating the Olympic champion and clocking a season’s best of 12.72 in the process. In the men’s 400mH, Rhys Williams (Adrian Thomas) ran a great race to take second place in 48.93, only beaten by 2012 Diamond Race winner Javier Culson. In the same race Dai Greene (Arnold) was fifth in 49.55.
There was also British success in the women’s 1500m, which was won by Swede Abeba Aregawi in 4.03.70 after a last lap burn up. Laura Weightman (Steve Cram) showed a good turn of pace to finish fourth in 4.06.22, whilst in eighth 20 year old Laura Muir recorded a big personal best of 4.07.76.
Robbie Grabarz (Fuzz Ahmed) returned to competition after missing the European Athletics Team Championships last weekend, and he did so in good form, finishing in third place. Ukranian Bohdan Bondarenko had to equal the meeting record with a personal best of 2.36m to take the win ahead of Olympic silver medallist Erik Kynard, with Grabarz recording a season’s best of 2.31m in third.
The men’s triple jump was also hotly contested, with Olympic champion Christian Taylor taking on world champion Teddy Tamgho, the American coming out on top, with both men recording season’s bests of 17.66m and 17.47m respectively. The long jump was also a close affair, Aleksandr Menkov once again showing great form to record a best jump of 8.27m, forcing Olympic champion Greg Rutherford (Dan Pfaff) into second.
The women’s discus got proceedings underway as Olympic champion Sandra Perkovic took victory as she launched the discus to 64.32m. Andreas Thorkildsen took victory in the men’s javelin with a fifth round throw of 83.94m. There were also wins for Cuban Yarisley Silva who cleared 4.73m in the women’s pole vault and Reese Hoffa who putted the shot out to 21.34m.