The Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix capped off a successful 2014 season for British athletes after record medal hauls at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and European Championships.
The star performance on a cloudy day at the Alexander Stadium came from double Olympic, World and European Champion Mo Farah (coach: Alberto Salazar), who raced ahead to a convincing victory in the men’s 2 miles.
Finishing over 100m ahead of second-placed Zane Robertson from New Zealand, Farah smashed Steve Ovett’s 1978 British Record of 8:13.51 with an outstanding time of 8:07.85, which also stands as a new European record and 2014 world lead.
“I was a bit tired going into it but I had to push myself to get that win but once I got into it, I got better and better. I was looking at the clock thinking ‘I can do it’. Last week has definitely given me a lot of confidence – I know I have a lot of speed on that last lap.
“It’s the first time I’ve competed in Britain since April at the London Marathon, so it was nice to give something back. The crowd kept pushing me along. I have just one more race left at the Great North Run and then I will have a bit of a break before getting ready for the track next season.”
Farah’s GB & NI compatriot and double European medallist, Andy Vernon (Nic Bideau), finished strongly over the last couple of laps to take sixth, recording a time of 8:27.55.
With Commonwealth and European silver medals to her name so far this season, Lynsey Sharp (Rana Reider) performed yet again to take the 800m win with a time of 1:59.14.
Moving into the lead with just 20m to go, Sharp took her first Diamond League victory ahead of reigning World and Commonwealth Champion and Diamond Race leader Eunice Sum of Kenya. Afterwards Sharp commented:
“I have very tired legs and it’s been hard to pick myself up after the Commonwealths and Europeans and carry on. It’s amazing to have a full crowd cheering you on – to come back and run in front of a home crowd at the end of the season is brilliant. I’m running in Brussels next for the final Diamond league event.”
Fellow Scot Laura Muir (Andy Young) finished strongly in fourth with a new personal best of 2:00.67, while Hannah England (Bud Baldaro) came through in seventh in a time of 2:01.96.
After missing out on a medal at the European Championships this summer despite recording the same time as the bronze medal winner, Christine Ohuruogu (Lloyd Cowan) stormed down the home straight for the first British victory of the day in the women’s 400m. Her winning time of 51.40 falls just outside of her season’s best, set last week in Zurich.
“I wasn’t expecting that. I was running down the home straight and saw that I was winning. It’s good for the crowd to see that. The time wasn’t all that great but it doesn’t really matter. I’ve not quite finished my season yet – I’m running a 500m soon. But it’s great to come and finish the Sainsbury’s Summer Series off.”
Sainsbury’s British champion Kelly Massey (Stephen Ball) recorded a new personal best of 51.96 to place fifth, with fellow Briton Anyika Onuora (Reider) one place behind in the same time.
Fresh from European glory, Eilidh Child (Malcolm Arnold) couldn’t quite catch rival Kaliese Spencer who beat her to Commonwealth Gold in Glasgow. Spencer has all but secured the 400mH Diamond League title with a 53.80 clocking ahead of Child’s 54.89. Child was pleased with her efforts on the day, saying:
“I tried a new stride pattern today and it went well. Majors are now over so it’s all about having fun now. I enjoyed Glasgow and ran well and kept focussed in Zurich. It’s very positive going into the next few years as I dealt with the pressure. The Diamond League’s really going well for me this year.”
2014 World Junior silver medallist and British junior record holder Shona Richards (Marina Armstrong) came home in sixth with a time of 58.46.
Straight from their European relay success, Asha Philip (Christine Bowmaker) and Ashleigh Nelson (Mike Afilaka) featured strongly in a very close 100m, won by Kerron Stewart who took bronze in Glasgow. Stewart’s 11.22 was enough to hold off Myriam Soumare of France, whilst Philip and Nelson battled it out for third and fourth with respective times of 11.26 and 11.27. Diamond Race leader Tori Bowie unfortunately pulled up after 60m through injury.
Post-race Philip said:
“The time wasn’t that great but to compete against the world’s best is great. I was disappointed to leave Zurich without an individual medal but to get a British record in the relay was great. I just enjoy what I’m doing at the moment.”
Meanwhile Nelson remarked:
“It was amazing to come out here in Birmingham in front of a home crowd. I’m disappointed in how I performed personally but it’s nice to know that even if I don’t run a technically good race I can still come out with a good result.”
In a 600m race dominated by 800m World Record Holder David Rudisha, young Briton Kyle Langford (George Harrison) broke the British junior record with 1:16:30 to finish in seventh place, with compatriot Guy Learmonth (George Gandy) in ninth.
After his win at the Sainsbury’s Glasgow Grand Prix, Kemar Bailey-Cole returned to wrap up 100m victory in Birmingham with a time of 10.08, ahead of Nesta Carter in 10.13.
Sub-10 man Chijindu Ujah (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) finished fourth in 10.23, beating European silver medallist Christophe Lemaitre into fifth. Bronze medallist Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (Reider) once again came in just behind Lemaitre with 10.34.
European champion Martyn Rooney (Reider) finished third in the men’s 400m in 45.25, behind Grenada’s Kirani James who clocked 44.59 for victory. Isaac Makwala from Bostwana finished second, while GB & NI youngster Matthew Hudson-Smith (Tony Hadley) was seventh in 46.60, after winning two medals in Zurich.
Despite a storming start from Commonwealth champion Sally Pearson, USA’s Dawn Harper-Nelson got to the line first in 12.66 to win the women’s 100mH. Britain’s European champion Tiffany Porter (Reider) finished fourth with a time of 12.93 after hitting the first hurdle.
Diamond Race leader Nickel Ashmeade strengthened his grip on the 200m title, holding off a strong challenge from Alonso Edward on the line to win with a time of 20.33. Britain’s James Ellington (Reider) was sixth in 20.93.
A promising men’s high jump didn’t disappoint, with both Mutaz Barshim and Bogdan Bondarenko clearing a new meeting record of 2.38m on their final attempt. Despite some very close attempts, neither could quite clear 2.41m and Barshim claimed victory on countback, narrowing the points gap to Bondarenko in the Diamond League race.
Meanwhile, in the men’s long jump, 2014 Commonwealth and European champion Greg Rutherford (Taiwah-Dodoo) couldn’t quite repeat his recent form, jumping 8.04m in the third round to place fourth in a very tight competition. Loughborough-based Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor found a last round season’s best of 8.09m to take victory, with Chris Tomlinson finishing down in eighth place.
The famous Emsley Carr Mile featured one of the best fields ever assembled in this event, with a meeting record of 3:51.89 required to secure victory for Asbel Kiprop of Kenya, adding his name to the historic list of past winners.
In the throws, Olympic and Commonwealth champion Valerie Adams now boasts a 55 competition winning streak thanks to a first round best of 19.96m, while European discus champion Robert Harting of Germany came through a strong field to win with a distance of 67.57m.
In the Club:Connect mixed 4x100m relays, there were convincing wins for hosts Birchfield Harriers in the U13 race in 49.51 from Halesowen, while the latter got their revenge in the U15 category with a 46.35 victory. The U17 relay proved to be more competitive with Cheltenham & County edging ahead for a 46.93 win over Rugby & Northampton.
The IPC Athletics Grand Prix Final followed on immediately from the IAAF Diamond League action in Birmingham and Hannah Cockroft (Jenni Banks) continued her unbeaten senior record with another victory in the T34 100m category, securing a meeting record of 19.04 despite a strong headwind.
“It was nice out there – I would like to say a big thank you to the crowd who stayed. It’s fantastic to have a crowd supporting us and wanting to watch us compete. You want to love the sport but it’s good when others can love it with you.”
Double European medallist Mel Nicholls (Job King) followed her best friend and teammate home in third place.
There was a convincing win in the women’s T53/T54 1500m from Switzerland’s Manuela Schar, the four-time European Champion in Swansea. Schar crossed the line in a meeting record of 3:43.72, ahead of Britain’s Jade Jones (Ian & Tanni Grey-Thompson) who clocked 3:47.32. Jones, who bagged silver and bronze at the IPC European Championships, finished ahead of her GB & NI teammate and triple T53 European Champion Sammi Kinghorn (Ian Mirfin) in fifth.
As expected Britons Dan Greaves (Jim Edwards) and Aled Davies (Anthony Hughes) continued their great rivalry in the F42/44 discus. Commonwealth and European F44 champion Greaves went out to 60.01m in the final round to take victory from Davies by just 19 points. Double European F42 champion Davies threw an F42 meeting record of 46.93m for second place. Post-event Greaves said:
“It’s great to compete with Aled again and have a lot of fun. The season couldn’t have gone any better for me – two golds and PBs. Today I was up against the world record holder so it was a tough competition but the victory means a lot.”
Meanwhile Davies remarked:
“It was a consistent series but at this part of the season I’m feeling so tired. It was hard with the F44 guys and Dan’s in incredible form. I threw further than I did last night at the Euros so I can’t complain.”
Elsewhere in the field, Stef Reid (Reider) jumped out to 5.26m in the third round to accumulate 949 points, coming third overall in the T42/44 long jump behind a new T42 World Record of 4.60m for Germany’s Vanessa Low. Reid explained:
“It was frustrating – I had big jumps which were fouls but had lots of fun and it’s good to walk away hungry for more. 2014 has been an awesome year – beyond my expectations. There has been lots of progression which has been positive. This is my last competition of the summer so I can have 4-6 weeks off now!”
On the track, T44 100m sprinter Laura Sugar (Femi Akinsanya) ran a superb race to finish third in a new British Record of 13.55. This marks a huge improvement from her previous best of 13.71. Sugar commented:
“To get a massive PB and a national record after getting a PB in Swansea has been amazing.”
Sophie Hahn (Joe McDonnell) came home in third place in the T37/T38 400m in 1:08.83, behind a meeting record of 1:04.90 for Brazilian Veronica Hipolita. This comes after three silver medals for Hahn over 100m, 400m and in the 4x100m relay at the European championships in Swansea.