Jessica Ennis defeats Lolo Jones again in 7.97, but Germany takes team title
World heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis helped the British team to a great start at the Aviva International Match in Glasgow as she defeated Lolo Jones for the second year running, but Great Britain’s overall performance was not enough to topple surprise winners Germany.
The women’s 60m hurdles was a different kind of race to last year. Ennis’s winning time was slightly slower than 12 months ago, but her margin of victory was bigger – helped in part to USA’s Jones crashing into the fourth hurdle.
The result for Ennis was a world-leading 7.97, her second fastest time to date. New British recruit Tiffany Ofili was second with a season’s best of 8.04 while a frustrated Jones faded to fourth in 8.27.
Ennis later set a 6.38m season’s best in the long jump, but it was only good enough for third place behind surprise German winner Nadja Kather (6.58m) and USA’s Funmi Jimoh (6.48m).
There was also a world-leading performance in the men’s 60m hurdles from David Oliver, who showed no signs of fatigue after a disrupted journey to the UK. The tall American clocked 7.51 to win comfortably from European champion Andy Turner, who recorded his fastest ever season opener with 7.66. “Maybe I should sleep in airports more often,” commented Oliver. Commonwealth bronze medallist Lawrence Clarke set a PB of 7.71 in third.
The women’s pole vault was won by Germany’s European bronze medallist Lisa Ryzih with 4.55m, but the real story for the home crowd was the coming of age for Holly Bleasdale, who set two PBs, defeated UK No.1 Kate Dennison, and moved to No.2 on the UK all-time list.
Bleasdale, who started the competition with a 4.40m PB, improved to 4.41m then 4.48m to finish ahead of world junior champion Angelica Bengtsson. Bleasdale is now just seven centimetres shy of Yelena Isinbayeva’s world age-19 record. Dennison, competing off a short run up, cleared 4.11m.
Mark Lewis-Francis opened his season with comfortable win in 6.66. Trinidad’s Marc Burn was second (6.73) while USA’s Ryan Bailey pulled up with a hamstring injury.
But a double British 60m victory was not to be, as Jeanette Kwakye lost out to USA’s Alexandria Anderson in the women’s race, 7.31 to 7.40.
Germany took a clean sweep of all the long sprints, courtesy of Sebastian Ernst (200m, 21.21), Cathleen Tschirch (200m, 23.86), Thomas Schneider (400m, 47.03) and Weibke Ullman (400m, 54.41), giving them valuable points en route to their team victory.
The most dominant performance of the day came in the women’s 3000m where veteran Helen Clitheroe set a world-leading 8:52.31 in the 3000m. The men’s equivalent saw USA’s Dan Huling take a surprise victory over Kenyan favourite Sammy Mutahi, running 7:56.68.
Another British highlight came in the form of Jenny Meadows, who won the women’s 800m. With her seventh appearance in Glasgow in eight years, Meadows ran her fastest ever time at the Kelvin Hall, clocking 2:01.17. Germany’s Jana Hartmann was second (2:02.28) and Marilyn Okoro third (2:02.99).
Jesse Williams won the men’s high jump in 2.28m. Britain’s Tom Parsons, competing for the Commonwealth Select team, passed at 2.28m to attempt 2.31m, but it was not to be and he ended the competition with a best of 2.25m.
The Commonwealth Select team won the men’s triple jump, men’s 800m and women’s 1500m, thanks to Leevan Sands (16.18m), Boaz Lalang (1:49.16) and Mercy Njoroge (4:20.93) respectively.
But with six victories out of 17 events, the day belonged to Germany. They won with 61 points with Great Britain finishing second (56) and Commonwealth Select third (56). The USA finished fourth with 52 points, comfortably ahead of Sweden’s 29.
» See next week’s Athletics Weekly for full report, results and pictures.