Farah and Grabarz delight Birmingham crowd with Diamond League victories

Mo Farah wins the 2 miles as Robbie Grabarz comes out on top in the high jump, while Carmelita Jeter and Aries Merritt smash meeting records

Mo Farah (Mark Shearman)

It was something of a mixed day in Birmingham for Britain’s Olympic medallists as they made their first competitive appearance on UK soil since the London Olympics.

Olympic champion Greg Rutherford finished a distant third in the long jump, while Olympic silver medallist Christine Ohuruogu suffered a surprise defeat in the 400m. But Robbie Grabarz defeated the Olympic champion in the high jump before the day ended on a high with a victory for Mo Farah in the 2 miles.

The field was notably weak and there was no attempt at breaking the UK or European records, but that mattered little to the sell-out crowd who had turned out to support Britain’s double Olympic champion. Former European silver medallist Chris Thompson led through the first mile in a pedestrian 4:21.07, as Farah – as is his trademark – only hit the front in the closing stages.

He appeared to be happy enough to just do enough to hold off Thompson, but with 200m to go he turned around and spotted a potential charge from USA’s Bobby Curtis and suddenly turned on the afterburners, opening up a huge gap within a matter of seconds. Covering the final lap in 56.5, Farah won in 8:27.24 to finish a second ahead of his nearest challenger, Italy’s Daniele Meucci.

“It hasn’t been the easiest week because my wife gave birth to two little girls,” said Farah. “I’ve got one more race – a half-marathon – and then that’s it.”

Just moments earlier Grabarz had picked up his second Diamond League win of the season to move into the lead in the overall event standings. Three days earlier Grabarz had been part of an epic competition against Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov and Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim, which was won by the latter with 2.39m as Grabarz equalled the UK outdoor record with 2.37m.

The trio were all back in action in Birmingham, but Barshim exited the competition with three failures at 2.28m, leaving Ukhov and Grabarz to battle it out for the win. As the bar moved to 2.32m, Ukhov held the lead with a clean score card, but Grabarz sailed over that height at the first time of asking to move into pole position. The Russian knocked off the bar at 2.32m and followed it with two failures at 2.35m, leaving Grabarz as the winner.

Having finished in the top three in all of his competitions this summer, Grabarz is now one point ahead of world champion Jesse Williams – who finished last today in Birmingham – in the overall Diamond League standings.

Ohuruogu went out hard in the women’s 400m before taking the middle section easy, but as the stagger unwound in the home straight she found that she had left herself with too much to do to catch two-time Olympic finalist Rosemarie Whyte. The Jamaican posted a season’s best of 50.20 – the third-fastest time of her career – as Ohuruogu clocked 50.67, finishing ahead of Olympic finalist Francena McCorory (51.00) and Olympic bronze medallist DeeDee Trotter (51.45).

Jumping with a minor groin niggle, Rutherford admitted that he was probably competing against his better judgement. But he couldn’t resist performing in front of a home crowd and landed at 7.88m on his second attempt. He passed most of his other jumps, during which he went for treatment on his groin, and had to settle for third place behind Aleksandr Menkov. The Russian was the only man over eight metres with 8.18m, while Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor finished second with 7.95m.

Meeting records for Merritt, Jeter and Spencer

Undoubtedly the best performance of the day came from USA’s Aries Merritt in the 110m hurdles. With the Olympic title under his belt, Merritt has now turned his attention to breaking the world record, but after being disqualified for a false start in Lausanne three days ago, he was more cautious in Birmingham.

World champion Jason Richardson was breathing down Merritt’s neck for the whole race, but Merritt had the edge to win in 12.95, smashing Colin Jackson’s meeting record. Richardson finished second in 12.98 to equal his PB as David Oliver was third (13.28) and Britain’s Lawrence Clarke was sixth (13.52). Before this year no one had broken 13 seconds on UK soil, but now Merritt alone has recorded four sub-13 clockings in Britain.

After setting a stadium record of 11.01 in the heats of the women’s 100m, world champion Carmelita Jeter obliterated that mark in the final with a 10.81 clocking, also taking down the meeting record. Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce did not get off to her usual fast start and was left trailing the American for the entire race, finishing second with 10.90.

Just three days after setting a season’s best to win in Lausanne, Jamaica’s Kaliese Spencer continued her good late-season run of form to win the 400m hurdles. Soon after crossing the line in a meeting record of 53.78, it was announced that Spencer had been disqualified for a trail leg violation, moving Britain’s Perri Shakes-Drayton into first (54.08). But after an appeal Spencer’s result was allowed to stand.

Spotakova sews up Diamond League title, Harting’s winning streak continues

Two-time Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova needed just one throw to take the victory and meeting record in the javelin. Three of her four valid throws would have been enough to win, but her opening mark of 66.08m was easily the best of the day, beating Christina Obergfoll (63.19m) and Vera Rebryk (62.82m). Spotakova’s win guaranteed her the overall Diamond League title in the javelin, bagging her a $40,000 bonus.

Discus thrower Robert Harting has the longest current winning streak in athletics, having not lost a competition since 2010. But the two-time world champion and Olympic champion escaped a near disaster today after recording just one valid throw. Fortunately his 66.64m was enough to win ahead of 2008 Olympic champion Gerd Kanter (65.79m). British record-holder Lawrence Okoye finished a respectable fourth in a quality field with 64.49m.

Tyson Gay last competed over 200m in July 2010, but he returned to the event in Birmingham. A former world champion in the event, Gay held the lead coming into the home straight, but his rustiness over the distance showed in the closing stages as Jamaica’s Nickel Ashmeade came through to win, 20.12 to 20.21. In sixth, world junior 100m champion Adam Gemili went to No.2 on the UK all-time junior list with 20.53, the only athlete in the field to set a PB.

There was an even closer finish in the men’s 400m. Hurdles specialist Angelo Taylor upstaged Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos with a late charge to take the win, 44.93 to 44.96.

Stadium records for Adams and Birech

It has been just under two weeks since Valerie Adams was promoted to Olympic champion following the disqualification of Nadezhda Ostapchuk. Today in Birmingham the New Zealander notched up her third post-Olympics victory and in doing so added 25cm to the stadium record that had stood to Ines Müller since 1985. Adams’ first-round throw of 20.52m saw her finish almost two metres ahead of USA’s Michelle Carter (18.71m).

After five top-five finishes but no victories so far in this year’s Samsung Diamond League series, Kenyan teenager Jairus Birech finally came out on top to smash the stadium record by two seconds with 8:20.27 in the 3000m steeplechase. On the final lap he opened up a huge gap on team-mate Abel Mutai, the Olympic bronze medallist, who finished five seconds adrift (8:25.42).

World and Olympic champion Mariya Savinova levelled the score with world indoor champion Pamela Jelimo in the 800m, bringing their head-to-head record for this season to two apiece. The Russian ran negative splits after a slow 61.76 first lap, kicking away to win by more than a second in 2:00.40. Marilyn Okoro was third in 2:01.96 with Olympian Lynsey Sharp in fifth (2:02.28), more than a second ahead of fellow Brits Jessica Judd and Jemma Simpson.

Kenyan athletes filled the top five places in the women’s 3000m, which came down to an exciting finish between Mercy Cherono and double world champion Vivian Cheruiyot. Just 0.01 separated the pair with Cherono getting the verdict in 8:41.21. Britain’s Julia Bleasdale set a PB of 8:46.38 in sixth.

Elsewhere, USA’s Anna Pierce won a slow 1500m in 4:11.33, sprinting past long-time leader Hannah England in the closing stages. Laura Weightman came through for second in 4:11.79. Pole vaulters Jenn Suhr and Yarisley Silva replicated their 1-2 finish from the Olympics. They both cleared 4.65m with Suhr winning on countback from the Cuban. In a below-par but competitive women’s triple jump, Olga Saladukha pulled out a winning leap of 14.40m after four fouls to defeat Jamaica’s Kimberly Williams (14.37m) with Olympic champion Olga Rypakova a further three centimetres behind.

One Response to “Farah and Grabarz delight Birmingham crowd with Diamond League victories”

  1. Ray Eaton says:

    Interesting afternoon for the British athletes. No British record for Mo Farah today, but given what has gone on in his life this last couple of weeks, it isn't really that important. I guess recent events have been a distraction for Greg Rutherford too, as he was down on his best.
    Another superb competition for Robbie Grabarz. At the turn of the year, who would have thought he would match Steve Smith's 20 year old British record. Surely Grabarz is capable of going even higher, in the future.
    Decent effort by Lawrence Okoye in the discus, but it is rather worrying that there is talk that he might return to rugby union. Naturally he was disappointed to finish 12th in the Olympic final, but the Croydon athlete is still learning the event. Top class discus throwers tend to enjoy great longevity in the sport. Olympic great and fourth place in London-Virgilijus Alekna, is old enough to be Okoye's father, and American John Powell, won silver at the 1987 World Championships, in Rome, at the age of 40. I hope Okoye realises his potential in the sport.

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