Manchester again plays host to some exciting street athletics action, with Jess Ennis-Hill among those to get the crowds cheering with a solid return to competitive action
Winning performances by the likes of Dina Asher-Smith, Greg Rutherford and Tiffany Porter as well as the return of Jessica Ennis-Hill got the crowds cheering as Great CityGames action returned to the streets of Manchester on Saturday, May 9.
Spectators braved the mixed weather conditions, with wind and rain leading on to a few sunnier spells as track action got underway on Deansgate.
Asher-Smith got her season off to a superb start with not one but two wins. After claiming victory over 150m ahead of double European sprint champion Dafne Schippers, the world junior 100m champion returned to sprint to success in the 2x100m relay event alongside team-mate CJ Ujah.
Asher-Smith’s fine start in the 150m had set her up well and she held on to claim victory ahead of world heptathlon bronze medallist Schippers – 16.82 to 16.95. It reversed the result from the European Indoor Championships in Prague in March where Schippers took gold ahead of Asher-Smith, who in taking silver claimed her first major individual senior medal and became the quickest teenager in history over 60m. Anyika Onuora finished third in Manchester in 17.80 ahead of USA’s Stacey Ann Smith in 17.90.
An hour and a half later and Asher-Smith demonstrated another blistering start to put Ujah in a great position at the relay handover. The pair clocked 20.30 to beat their fellow GB team of Bianca Williams and Richard Kilty with 20.78. An ‘All Stars’ team of Chantel Malone and Kim Collins was third with 21.38.
Ennis-Hill hadn’t competed since July 2013 after injury struggles and then giving birth to her son, Reggie, and while she was a little rusty on her return, her 13.14 clocking for third in the 100m hurdles behind Tiffany Porter and Lucy Hatton was promising as the Olympic heptathlon champion works towards making her multi events comeback in Gotzis later this month.
“It’s really good to be back,” said Ennis-Hill. “I’m always going to be disappointed because I know I’m capable of running a lot faster but I hit a hurdle and feel like I’m lacking race sharpness.
“I can build on it now.”
Porter’s 12.86 secured her the win ahead of Hatton with 13.06, while Ennis-Hill was in contention until the final stages when that knocked hurdle put her back slightly. Behind her, Serita Solomon ran 13.33 for fourth.
While some athletes were doubling up in individual and relay sprint action, Schippers also contested two events but again had to be satisfied with the runner-up spot in the long jump as Commonwealth silver medallist Jazmin Sawyers leapt 6.44m for the win. Schippers had a best of 6.40m, while USA’s Funmi Jimoh was third with 6.33m.
Rutherford claimed another CityGames victory on his season opener, the Olympic, European and Commonwealth long jump champion leaping a best of 8.01m to beat American Mike Hartfield with 7.95m and fellow Brit Dan Bramble with 7.80m
Fresh from competing in warmer climes in The Bahamas at the IAAF World Relays, Mike Rodgers won the battle over 100m on the streets of Manchester, pipping fellow World Relays competitor Kilty 10.25 to 10.29. World and European indoor 60m champion Kilty stayed strong in the closing stages but it wasn’t enough to beat the American, though did see the Brit finish one spot ahead of Saint Kitts and Nevis sprinter Collins who clocked 10.33.
Collins, who won the 2002 Commonwealth 100m title in Manchester, had previously raced Kilty four times at 100m with Collins having won all four. Ujah was fourth with 10.35.
Kilty later said that he was happy with his second-place finish given he is returning from a hamstring tear sustained in April and had not done any blocks work prior to the race.
USA’s Paralympic silver medallist Richard Browne dominated the men’s T44 100m. Just dipping under 11 seconds, his 10.99 saw him beat the rest of the field, comprising Finland’s Mike Seitis, Netherlands’ Ronald Hertog and Italy’s Emanuele Di Marino, by over a second.
There was a USA one-two in the women’s 100m event as Jessica Young clocked 11.33 to beat English Gardner with 11.37. British sprinters Ashleigh Nelson and Williams finished third and fourth with times of 11.58 and 11.61 respectively.
Meghan Beesley continued her winning ways in Manchester, the 25-year-old crossing the line just ahead of a fast-finishing Katarina Johnson-Thompson, despite knocking the final barrier slightly. Beesley, who broke the world best when winning last year’s event in 25.05, clocked 25.28 this time around to beat European pentathlon champion Johnson-Thompson with 25.31 after the multi-eventer demonstrated a strong finish. Italy’s Yadisleidy Pedroso ran 26.06 ahead of European 400m hurdles champion Eilidh Child with 26.23.
South Africa’s LJ van Zyl dominated the men’s 200m hurdles. Clocking 22.10 he equalled Andy Turner’s world best, aided slightly by a legal wind of 1.8 m/s. Van Zyl, who won world 400m hurdles bronze in 2011 and the Commonwealth title in 2006, enjoyed a clear victory ahead of USA’s Ray Stewart with 22.85, while Dominican Republic’s two-time Olympic and two-time world champion Félix Sánchez clocked 23.05 for third. Sebastian Rodger was fourth with 23.08.
Orlando Ortega took the 110m hurdles ahead of USA’s Olympic champion and world record-holder Aries Merritt and Britain’s Olympic fourth-placer Lawrence Clarke, as USA’s world champion David Oliver has a messy race and suffered a fall.
Netherlands’ Churandy Martina had beaten Danny Talbot and James Ellington over 200m at the Tom Jones Classic in Gainesville, Florida, a couple of weeks ago and again pipped the British sprinters to claim 150m victory in Manchester with 15.21. Talbot clocked 15.30 ahead of Ellington with 15.37 as USA’s Curtis Mitchell failed to finish.
The challenges the weather conditions posed had been clear from the first event, with only two athletes making it over 4.20m in the women’s pole vault. Cuba’s world indoor champion and Olympic silver medallist Yarisley Silva secured victory with 4.30m which she cleared on her third attempt, while USA’s Melissa Gergel was runner up with 4.20m. Germany’s Katharina Bauer was third with 4.10m.
» Full results can be found at www.greatcitygames.org. See next week’s Athletics Weekly magazine for much more in-depth reports, pictures and results from the Athletics Weekly Great CityGames Manchester