A summary of all the top performances on a busy weekend of athletics action
The Olympic selection battles within the Virgin London Marathon may have dominated the athletics headlines over the past weekend, but over in the USA there were many impressive track and field performances by both American and British athletes.
Lawrence Okoye’s world-leading discus throw kicked off the first day of the Mt SAC Relays, and the top marks continued to come over the next two days of competition. Fellow UK record-holder Sophie Hitchon improved her own British record in the hammer, adding seven centimetres to the mark she set last month.
Her 70.47m came in the fifth round, her series including three other throws in excess of 69 metres. It was good enough for third place behind USA’s Amber Campbell, ten years Hitchon’s senior, who won with 71.57m. One day before, Hitchon’s team-mate Sarah Holt had set a lifetime best of 67.60m to climb to fourth on the UK all-time rankings.
European bronze medallist Martyn Rooney defeated 2004 Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner in the 400m by 0.04. Rooney’s 44.92 is his fourth-fastest run ever, and never before has he broken 45 seconds this early in the season.
The wind was just over the allowable limit in the men’s 100m, but Walter Dix’s 9.85 (2.4m/s) win was nevertheless impressive. The world silver medallist beat Mike Rodgers (9.97) and Christian Malcolm (10.16). Britain’s Richard Kilty clocked 10.15 (2.5m/s) in the B race.
Double world champion Brittney Reese continued her domination of the long jump, leaping 7.12m (-0.9) – her second-best outdoor performance to date and her third seven-metre-plus competition in a row. A high-quality men’s long jump was won by Mexico’s Luis Rivera, who won with 8.22m, despite jumping into a 2.2m/s wind. World indoor heptathlon champion Ashton Eaton set an outdoor PB of 8.06m, while Britain’s Greg Rutherford leapt 8.05m.
Former world champion Lauryn Williams won the women’s 100m in 11.17 (1.5m/s) with Britain’s Laura Turner a couple of strides behind in 11.31. Meanwhile, former world silver medallist Nicola Sanders was third in the 400m with 52.62.
Former global champion hurdling duo Michelle Perry and Joanne Hayes continued their comeback. Perry, the two-time world champion, won the 100m hurdles in 12.70 (2.5m/s), just 0.02 ahead of 2004 Olympic champion Hayes.
World indoor finalist Steve Lewis equalled his outdoor PB to win the pole vault in 5.72m – easily his best ever outdoor season debut.
In the distance races, Andy Vernon and Julia Bleasdale posted Olympic ‘B’ qualifiers in the 5000m. Vernon finished fourth in the men’s race with 13:23.20, while Bleasdale won the women’s race in 15:25.62, slashing 20 seconds from her lifetime best. Lennie Waite dipped under 10 minutes again in the steeplechase (9:52.64), while Frenchman Jamel Ahrass ran a world-leading 3:52.21 in the mile.
The Tom Jones Memorial in Gainesville, Florida, was one of the other key meetings of the past weekend. British junior sprinter was one of the surprise performers, smashing his PB in both the 100m and the 200m in his first races of the year. Gemili, who also plays football for Dagenham and Redbridge, won both of his races in 10.23 (1.1m/s) and 20.70 (-0.2m/s) respectively.
Gemili’s 100m performance makes him the sixth-fastest British junior of all-time, while he moves to No.8 on the UK all-time junior 200m rankings. In that event he beat domestic rival David Bolarinwa, the European junior 200m champion, who clocked a PB of 20.78, having run 10.33 in the 100m.
But the most notable sprint performance of the day was that of world indoor champion Justin Gatlin, who won the 200m in 20.11 (1.0m/s) – his fastest run in that event since 2005, the year in which he won the World Championships sprint double.
British record-holder Tiffany Porter was in stunning form in the 100m hurdles. Assisted by a 3.0m/s tailwind, the world indoor silver medallist ran 12.47 – the fastest performance under any conditions by a British athlete. Earlier in the day she had posted a wind-assisted 12.61 in the heats.
The men’s sprint hurdles was top quality too. American record-holder David Oliver posted a world-leading 13.17 (1.5m/s), beating Ryan Brathwaite of Barbados, whose 13.29 clocking was his fastest time since 2009, the year in which he won a surprise world title. Britain’s world bronze medallist Andy Turner ran a marginally wind-assisted 13.57 in the heats but did not contest the final.
World indoor triple jump champion Will Claye produced his second-best ever leap to win the long jump with 8.25m (1.6m/s), while Britain’s Jade Johnson – competing for the first time in almost two years – was second in the women’s event with 6.39m (1.4m/s).
As has often been the case in recent years, world indoor champion Sanya Richards-Ross opened her season at the Michael Johnson Invitational in Waco, Texas. Competing in her specialist distance, the American record-holder clocked her fastest ever season debut with a world-leading 50.18.
Further world-leading marks came at the Kansas Relays, where Reese Hoffa was a narrow winner of the men’s shot, throwing 21.73m to Christian Cantwell’s 21.71m. Bershawn Jackson improved his own world lead in the 400m hurdles with a 48.20 run.
At the War Eagle Invitational in Auburn, Alabama, world indoor champion Chaunte Lowe leapt to the top of the 2012 world lists, winning the high jump with 2.00m. On the track there were impressive victories in the 100m from Mookie Salaam (9.98) and Sheniqua Ferguson of the Bahamas (11.07).
Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu competed in her first race since helping Great Britain win the world indoor 4x400m title. Running in the 200m at the Long Beach Invitational in California, Ohuruogu clocked 23.76 – which, although some way off her PB, is quicker than her 200m time from this point of the season last year.
Back in Britain, Ennis also made her season debut. Throwing the javelin in a low-key competition in Cosford, Ennis – who has been working with former world bronze medallist Mick Hill in this event throughout the winer – launched the spear out to 45.66m. It is her best ever season opener in the event that proved to be her undoing at last year’s World Championships.