World 5000m champion wins at the London Grand Prix, while Tyson Gay and Perri Shakes-Drayton also shine
World champion Mo Farah closed the first day of the Aviva London Grand Prix with an emphatic victory in the 5000m.
Farah concluded last year’s meeting with victory in the 3000m and, while he was content to wait for the final 200m, which he covered in under 26 seconds, Farah produced victory this year with a sustained drive in the final three laps. Even though the fields at the Olympic Games will undoubtedly be stronger, it shows he will be confident in a variety of race-day scenarios next month.
Farah, who produced a final 800m of 1:54.69, crossed the line in 13:06.04 to defeat into second Collis Birmingham, who set a PB of 13:09.57. Double Commonwealth champion Moses Kipsiro took third in 13:09.98.
Perri Shakes-Drayton started the programme with a superb breakthrough in the 400m hurdles to put herself firmly into Olympic medal contention. The European bronze medallist stormed to victory in 53.77 to move to joint second on the 2012 rankings and second on the UK all-time lists, ahead of Tasha Danvers. In fact, Shakes-Drayton ran faster than Danvers did when she won the Olympic bronze medal in Beijing.
Shakes-Drayton also took an impressive array of scalps. Trailing behind her were European champion Irina Davydova, second in 54.63, stadium record-holder Kaliese Spencer, third in 55.08, and Olympic champion Melaine Walker, fourth in 55.45.
World champion Dai Greene couldn’t quite emulate Shakes-Drayton’s victory in the men’s 400m hurdles as he finished second to Javier Culson from Puerto Rico, who extended his unbeaten run this summer with victory in 47.78 to equal his world-leading mark.
Greene failed to make of an impression on Culson’s lead in the closing stages, although he was rewarded with his third-fastest time ever of 48.10, which comes just one week after his PB of 47.84 in Paris. This performance confirms Greene has fully recovered from a mid-season virus which affected his early-season form.
Jack Green finished fourth in a PB of 48.60 to move to No.7 on the UK all-time rankings.
Crystal Palace played host to Britain’s first-ever sub-13 110m hurdles performances as Aries Merritt took victory in a UK all-comers’ record of 12.93 to equal his world-leading time from the US Trials. World champion Jason Richardson was the runner-up of 13.06, while former Olympic champion Liu Xiang was forced to withdraw due to a back injury.
Andy Pozzi was the only Brit to make the final after running a 13.34 PB in the heats but he fell out of contention after clattering a hurdle.
Asafa Powell was a last-minute withdrawal due to a groin strain, which meant Tyson Gay’s victory looked a formality. In chilly conditions, the 2007 world champion found 10.03 sufficient for victory by six hundredths ahead of Ryan Bailey, who ran 10.06 in the heats into a 1.5 m/s headwind. None of the Brits progressed to the final.
Former two-time world champion Maryam Jamal prevailed in a tactical 1500m in 4:06.78 ahead of reigning world champion Jenny Simpson from the USA, who acquitted herself well again in a slow-run race. Laura Weightman was the best of the Brits in fourth in 4:08.19 with Lisa Dobriskey also inside 4:09.
In her first-race since suffering a spike wound to the Achilles tendon in Hengelo in May, Hannah England was found wanting for fitness as she finished last in 4:14.45.
Vivian Cheruiyot is unbeaten over 5000m since August 2010 and the double world champion added another victory to her tally. Cheruiyot produced a final kilometre of 2:47.69 to win in 14:48.86 ahead of team-mate Mercy Cherono, second in 14:49.26.
Julia Bleasdale was the leading Brit in sixth in a PB of 15:10.06.
In the absence of most of the Olympic medal favourites, Charonda Williams from the USA won the 200m in 22.75.
The highlight on the in-field was a high-quality long jump competition where the winds were favourable for the participants. Mitchell Watt prevailed with a season’s best of 8.28m (+1.0), although his lead looked under threat in the final round as Chris Tomlinson produced the fourth-best jump of his career of 8.26m (+0.2), which is a 25cm improvement on his season’s best and puts him within nine centimetres of the world-leading mark.
Godfrey Mokoena completed the top-three with 8.24m (+1.7) while JJ Jegede was fifth with a PB of 8.11m.
Chaunte Lowe cleared 2.00m to win the high jump from reigning Olympic champion Tia Hellebaut, who is rounding into good form with a 1.97m season’s best. Anna Chicherova, who made some solid attempts at 2.08m at the Russian Championships last week, could only manage third with 1.94m tonight.
The discus throwers had to put up with some of the worst of the conditions at the start of the evening and the distances suffered. Reigning Olympic champion Gerd Kanter won with a modest 64.85m from two-time Olympic champion Virgilijus Alekna with 63.71m while Lawrence Okoye rebounded from a disappointing European Championships with third in 63.33m.
Bjorn Otto won the pole-vault with a third-time clearance of 5.74m while Renaud Lavillenie, who has competed frequently over the past fortnight, suffered his first loss of the summer finishing equal fifth in 5.40m.