The Great CityGames once again treated the crowd on Gateshead quay to an action packed afternoon of athletics, which saw six British athletes take victory to cap off a fantastic summer of athletics.
The race everyone was talking about was the women’s 500m and it didn’t disappoint. Fans and statisticians alike were predicting different winners with world 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu (coach: Lloyd Cowan) and European 400mH champion Eilidh Child (Malcolm Arnold) setting up in distance, whilst the likes of Commonwealth and European 800m silver medallist Lynsey Sharp (Rana Reider) moved down from 800m.
It was a close affair throughout, but with 200m to go 400m specialist Ohuruogu was still full of running, and she slowly but surely edged away to secure her first ever victory on the road. It was an impressive winning time, aided by the downhill start, and Ohuruogu was pleased with her run and 67.46 clocking:
“I thought I was crazy when I agreed to do this, and I still think I’m crazy! It’s a bit of fun and on the start line we were all laughing as we didn’t know how we were going to start, whether we crouch down or do a standing start! It wasn’t as bad as I thought and once I saw the track I was like, ‘it’s here already’!”
Half a second back Sharp looked strong despite running over 800m in Brussels last night (where she finished second in 1.58.94), with Child, who also raced last night, a mere sixth hundredths behind her compatriot.
The first winner of the day was Sainsbury’s British champion Asha Philip (Christine Bowmaker) who stepped up to 150m with devastating effect, to perhaps surprisingly take victory over Allyson Felix who clocked a 22.02 world lead over 200m in Brussels last night. Philip got a great start and didn’t ever look like faltering down the long 150m straight, taking victory in a swift16.69, with compatriot Jodie Williams (Bowmaker) taking second in 16.84, just ahead of Felix. Post-race Philip commented:
“The performance surprised me. Me and Jodie Williams run this distance in training all the time but we never do it on a straight – I can’t believe I just run a 150m on a straight! I think the atmosphere is much better than running in a stadium. In a street race the crowd are right next to you. You can literally high five them when you are running; it’s really nice and it gets us going. It felt great running, it really did.”
2014 European and Commonwealth long jump champion Greg Rutherford (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) ended his season on a high with victory, saving his best effort until last. That 7.92m jump was enough to see off JJ Jegede (Peter Stanley) who produced a first round effort of 7.76m, which was actually his only jump after tweaking something in round one, with Chris Tomlinson third.
Back on the track, Richard Kilty (Reider) clocked a 15.32 150m personal best to take victory in front of a home crowd. The Gateshead Harrier, who for most of his career trained just down the road, showed why he’s the World Indoor champion defeating Michael Rodgers and Harry Aikies-Aryeetey (Reider) in a photo finish. The crowd were clearly delighted to have a local winner, and afterwards Kilty was pleased he could deliver for them.
“It’s the best end to the season I could wish for. I’ve won four major medals this year and to finish it off on a home track is amazing. To see a local lad go and win is good for the crowd more than anything.”
The women’s one mile race treated fans on both sides of the river to a thrilling race, which for the most part saw Laura Muir (Andy Young) leading from Hellen Obiri. The 2013 World Championship bronze medallist surged clear of Muir with 400m to go, however the gutsy Scot fought back to overhaul the Kenayn, who faded to fourth, and take a memorable victory. Hannah England (Bud Baldaro) ran a patient race to finish third in 4.36.07, but all the attention was on Muir, who was decidedly happy with her 4.34.84 personal best and the win.
The final track event of the afternoon saw Tiffany Porter (Reider) go up against Diamond League champion Dawn Harper-Nelson and world champion Brianna Rollins in the 100m hurdles, and she delivered a polished performance to take victory in 12.79. The winning margin was over two tenths of second in the end, and Porter was pleased with her run, and the season as a whole.
It was also a day to remember for Andy Turner (Cowan) who ended a long and successful career on the banks of the river Tyne. Turner, who has been a popular member of the British team for the best part of a decade was covered in water by his teammates after the finish, and he’ll be sorely missed. The actual result almost went unnoticed, with Dayron Robles getting the better of William Sharman (Jerzy Maciukiewicz), with Turner third ahead of Olympic champion Aries Merritt.
Elsewhere, Richard Browne needed a season’s best of 10.94 to beat Jonnie Peacock (Steve Fudge) in the T44 100m, whilst Homiyu Tesfaye won the men’s mile and Jenn Suhr the women’s pole vault.