Double Olympic champion delights home crowd with victory in season’s toughest test, as Ohuruogu, Shakes-Drayton and Judd also dominate
The IAAF Diamond League series got back on track in Birmingham on Sunday following a short hiatus for the European Team Champs and national trials and it returned in style as Mo Farah delighted the home crowd with a superb 5000m showing at the Sainsbury’s Grand Prix.
The double Olympic champion’s victory was the highlight of a meet that saw a stadium record in the women’s 3000m steeplechase as well as an equal meeting record in the high jump, while further British victories for Christine Ohuruogu, Jessica Judd and Perri Shakes-Drayton meant there was plenty for the home crowd to shout about at the Alexander Stadium.
In what should prove to be a crucial confidence boost ahead of the IAAF World Championships in Moscow later this summer, Farah kicked when it counted to see off Ethiopian duo Yenew Alamirew and Hagos Gebrhiwet, the world numbers one and two this year.
Farah settled himself within the pack quite early on, rather than taking his usual position at the back, and as 19-year-old world junior cross-country champion Gebrhiwet made a move, the Brit went with him. Level at the bell, the 19-year-old couldn’t hold on to his lead as his compatriot Alamirew and Farah picked up the pace.
A final surge from Farah during his 52.36 last lap saw him cross the line in 13:14.24 ahead of Alamirew’s 13:14.71. A few seconds later and Gebrhiwet followed them home with Britain’s Chris Thompson clocking a season’s best 13:24.06 for seventh.
“It was a tough field so I’m really pleased I came through it with a victory,” commented Farah. “It’s important that I keep working hard now and get ready for the World Championships.
“Training is going well,” he added, “so I’m quite confident now.”
Dasaolu sends a signal
A sub-10 clocking from Jamaica’s world indoors silver medallist Nesta Carter was enough to clinch him victory in the men’s 100m which saw Britain’s James Dasaolu record his second personal best time of the day for the runners-up spot.
Just missing the sub-10 mark himself, Dasaolu sent out a signal with his 10.05 clocking in the second heat of the men’s 100m and went on to better it by 0.02 in the final to finish ahead of former world champion Kim Collins (10.06).
It was a successful showing all round for the Brits in action, as James Ellington also recorded a lifetime best of 10.17.
Japanese sprint sensation Yoshihide Kiryu, competing in what was his first trip outside of his home country, wasn’t quite so sensational on overseas soil. With a PB of 10.01 set in Hiroshima back in May, a time that would have seen him become joint world junior record-holder had the type of wind-measuring equipment used complied with IAAF regulations, the 17-year-old could only manage 10.55 in the first heat.
Ohuruogu, Shakes-Drayton and Judd dominate
In the women’s 400m London 2012 silver medallist Christine Ohuruogu used her trademark powerhouse finish to pip Botswanan world champion Amantle Montsho into second on the line – 50.63 to 50.64.
Montsho held a clear lead coming around the bend and it looked as though the result had been decided, but the former world and Olympic champion turned on the gas to put an end to Montsho’s unbeaten streak this season.
Jess Judd again demonstrated her superb judgement in the women’s 800m to overhaul fellow Brit Marilyn Okoro and record an impressive sub-2:00 clocking, her 1:59.85 a PB enough to better the ‘A’ qualifying standard for the World Championships in Moscow.
The 18-year-old will have gone into the race full of confidence following her gritty 800m win in Gateshead for maximum points at the European Team Championships last weekend and to huge cheers from the home crowd she pulled away from the field to comfortably take the win. Ethiopia’s rising star Fantu Magiso crossed in 2:01.12 for third.
In keeping with the fine conditions at the Alexander Stadium, double European indoor champion Perri Shakes-Drayton continued her dominance with a fine performance in the women’s 400m hurdles to lead another British one-two. Her season’s best 53.82 was enough to put her ahead of double European indoor medallist Eilidh Child who lowered her own Scottish record to 54.22.
Meeting records for Bondarenko and Chemos
An equal meeting record of 2.36m boosts Bohdan Bondarenko to second on the Ukrainian all-time list, with his mark just 2 centimetres away from national record.
Bondarenko followed up his victory at the European Team Championships in Gateshead last weekend to pip American Erik Kynard (2.34m) into second, while a season’s best of 2.31m was enough for third for Britain’s Olympic bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz, Sunday’s clearance being his best outdoor jump since last year’s Birmingham Diamond League meeting.
“It was fantastic to jump over 2.30 again, I feel like I am Robbie again,” commented Grabarz. “It has given me a lot of confidence to move forward and I’m just looking forward to the rest of the summer.”
A meeting record victory for Kenyan Milcah Chemos in the women’s 3000m steeplechase saw her break away from the lead pack following the final barrier, a last surge securing her a clear win in 9:17.43 ahead of Ethiopian Sofia Assefa (9:17.97).
Aregawi maintains unbeaten streak
Ethiopian-born Swede Abeba Aregawi maintained her unbeaten streak this year to finish strongly in the women’s 1500m with a 58.93 last lap, despite going into the race not feeling her best.
Her 4:03.70 clocking placed her clear leaving Kenya’s 2008 Olympic champion Nancy Langat (4:04.53) and Russian Yekaterina Sharmina (4:04.55) to battle for the runner-up spot.
Laura Weightman led the Brits home, her 4:06.22 enough for fourth, while Hannah England, Laura Muir and Lisa Dobriskey had to settle for seventh, eighth and tenth respectively.
Okagbare surprises in Fraser-Pryce v Jeter head-to-head
The highly anticipated Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Carmelita Jeter 200m head-to-head was blown apart by Blessing Okagbare, the Nigerian looking comfortable as she pushed on the home straight to cross the finish in 22.55.
Two-time Olympic 100m champion Fraser-Pryce went into the race leading the world rankings by 0.18 seconds from Okagbare but the Jamaican’s 22.72 wasn’t enough to see off her conqueror’s dominance.
Fraser-Pryce and Jeter have raced each other 24 times over 100m, but this was only their fourth clash over 200m. Making her first appearance on the track since hobbling over the 100m finish line with a hamstring injury in Shanghai six weeks ago, world champion Jeter never really posed a threat and crossed in 23.36 for a distant seventh.
Dawn Harper-Nelson beat Olympic champion Sally Pearson for the first time since 2009 on claiming victory in the women’s 100m hurdles with 12.64. She also saw off the likes of fellow American, Olympic bronze medallist Kellie Wells, who finished runner up with 12.67.
A season’s best of 12.72 for Britain’s Olympic finalist and world indoor silver medallist Tiffany Porter was just enough to clinch her third ahead of Pearson’s 12.73, the Australian competing in only her second race over the barriers this season due to injury.
Culson dominates Olympic re-run
In a race that read like a re-run of last year’s Olympic final with the top four finishers in Felix Sanchez, Michael Tinsley, Javier Culson and Dai Greene in action, it was Olympic bronze medallist Culson who ended up coming out on top thanks to his 48.59 clocking.
A strong run from Britain’s European champion Rhys Williams saw him cross the line in 48.93 for second ahead of London 2012 silver medallist Tinsley, who arrived in Birmingham on the back of a victory at the US Championships in a 47.96 world lead.
World champion Dai Greene, competing for only the third time this season following a double-hernia operation, was back in fifth with 49.55 while Olympic champion Felix Sanchez, making his first Diamond League appearance of the season, finished seventh with 49.68.
Williams’ second to Greene’s fourth marks the first time Williams has placed higher than Greene since the 2006 UK Championships, with the career head-to-head record standing at 13-4 in Greene’s favour.
Olympic 110m hurdles champion and world record-holder Aries Merritt, who continues his comeback from injury after pulling up in Shanghai, clocked a season’s best 13.23 in heat one to cross the finish line in the same time as 2009 world champion Ryan Brathwaite of Barbados.
But following the disqualification of USA’s David Payne for a false start in the final, it was Brathwaite who ended up on top, getting the better of his American rival thanks to his 13.13 clocking. Merritt, who returned to action in Des Moines to post his fastest time of the year in his semi-final before placing third in the final for a spot on the US team for Moscow, crossed in 13.22 ahead of Poland’s Artur Noga (13.32).
Aman again on top in 800m
The men’s 800m field featured two young stars who have both dipped below 1:44 this year – Ethiopia’s 19-year-old World indoor champion Mohammed Aman, who clocked 1:43.78 in Ostrava, and 20-year-old Kenyan Jeremiah Mutai.
It was Aman who again came out on top in Birmingham but he was made to work for his victory, crossing in 1:45.18 ahead of South African Andre Olivier (1:45.70) and Andrew Osagie who led the Brits home thanks to his strong 1:45.90 showing.
The men’s 1500m field included Morocco’s world indoor champion Abdelaati Iguider and compatriot Aman Wote who have both run under 3:34 this year and it was Wote who pipped his compatriot into second thanks to his 3:35.99 clocking. Iguider followed him home in 3:36.23 as Mohamed Moustaoui finished third with 3:36.75. Chris O’Hare was the first Brit over the line finishing eighth with 3:38.54.
Perkovic continues winning streak
The women’s discus competition kicked off the afternoon’s proceedings and Olympic champion Sandra Perkovic continued to dominate, taking victory with a best throw of 64.32m. The Croatian went in to the competition as unbeaten in four meetings and as expected she extended that to five thanks to her final round throw. But even her first round throw of 64.17m would have been enough to clinch the win ahead of USA’s Gia Lewis-Smallwood (62.46m) and German Anna Rüh (62.14m).
Cuba’s world-leader Yarisley Silva is the only woman to have reached 4.90m outdoors this year and although her best clearance on Sunday was some way off that mark, her 4.73m secured her the win ahead of world champion Fabiana Murer (4.63m) and Olympic champion Jenn Suhr (4.53).
Birmingham-based world and Olympic champion Christian Taylor came the closest of the afternoon to setting a world lead as he leapt to a season’s best 17.66m in the men’s triple jump, competing off a full run-up for the first time this season. It was enough to see him finish just ahead of world indoor record-holder Teddy Tamgho who also recorded a season’s best of 17.47m for second from his only legal jump.
Tamgho’s fellow Frenchman Yoann Rapinier managed 16.88m for third, while Brit Nathan Douglas, continuing his return from a career-threatening injury, placed fourth with 16.70m.
Menkov continues consistency
European indoor champion Aleksandr Menkov has enjoyed a consistent season so far with 8.30m-plus jumps in his last four competitions.
He showed that same consistency again on Sunday, his fourth-round leap of 8.27m placing him just ahead of Olympic champion Greg Rutherford who managed 8.11m in the third round to make it the fourth time the Russian has beaten the Brit this year. Fellow Brit Chris Tomlinson finished third with 7.97m.
In the shot competition, the two favourites, Americans Reese Hoffa and Ryan Whiting, finished first and second respectively with 21.05m and 20.89m, while in the javelin a best throw of 83.94m was just enough for Norway’s former Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen to win the competition ahead of Finland’s Ari Mannio (83.26).
» The Birmingham Diamond League took place on the second day of the weekend-long Sainsbury’s Grand Prix – Birmingham. For a report from day one see here. Full results from day two can be found here. The July 4 issue of AW will include reports and pictures from both days of action.