There were six British winners on the streets of Manchester at the Great CityGames this afternoon, as the public welcomed back Jessica Ennis-Hill (coach: Toni Minichiello) to competitive action for the first time since summer 2013.
There was a huge roar on the startline for Ennis-Hill in the 100m hurdles, but it was European champion Tiffany Porter (Rana Reider), who claimed the victory in 12.86 ahead of European Indoor bronze medallist Lucy Hatton (Jerzy Maciukiewicz) and Ennis-Hill, who finished in 13.14.
Porter said: “I was really happy with the performance today, it wasn’t too warm and a little bit of a headwind but I’m happy to come away with the victory today.
“My form has been really good, I’m in the shape of my life. I’m perfecting some parts of my race and working on some things technically so the goal is to just get better every single competition.”
Ennis-Hill added: “It’s really good to be back and I just feel like it’s the start of it now so I’m really happy to be getting back into it.
“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. So I’m just happy to come away from that and I can build on it now.
“It’s really nice to be back and getting in the blocks again and having the crowd behind you with the big cheer so it was really nice on the start line and after as well.”
It was also a good day for Olympic, World and Commonwealth champion Greg Rutherford (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo), who put together a strong series of jumps to win the long jump competition. The 28 year old’s opening round jump of 8.01 was enough to secure victory for the third successive year ahead of USA’s Mike Hartfield, who was just six centimetres behind.
After the win, Rutherford said: “The conditions were tough, nobody jumped particularly well but it was great to win. What I got from my warm weather training camp is hopefully going to help me for the whole season so I feel really confident. I felt great, on my first jump I couldn’t believe it was an eight metre jump to be honest, I thought after that I might have pushed on and done something but I don’t think today was the day for big jumps, it was just doing what I needed to do to win and I’m pleased with that.”
Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie) continued to show her undoubted superstar potential taking the scalp of double European champion Dafne Schippers in the 150m to cross the line in 16.82. The European Indoor silver medallist then teamed up with Chijindu Ujah (Tawiah-Dodoo) to claim the spoils in the 2x100m relay ahead of compatriots Richard Kilty (Linford Christie) and Bianca Williams (Lloyd Cowan).
Asher-Smith said: “I just kept thinking ‘run, run, run’ because I could feel Dafne (Schippers) coming back and I thought she was going to come past me like a train because I’ve raced her in Zurich and raced her in the 60m and I know what kind of an athlete she is. To be able to hold my form and hold on to it I was quite happy and quite shocked.”
Schippers was forced to settle for second again in the long jump, finishing behind Commonwealth silver medallist Jazmin Sawyers (Alan Lerwill) who went out to 6.44m (-0.4m/s), four centimetres ahead of the Dutch athlete.
Despite the onrushing Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Mike Holmes), Meghan Beesley (Nick Dakin) held off the challenge of her GB & NI teammate to take the plaudits in the 200m hurdles. It was a blistering start for last year’s winner, and the Birchfield Harrier just kept the European Indoor pentathlon champion at bay with 25.28 to 25.31.
Beesley said: “I feel like I’ve got my speed, I think I went off quicker than I did last year but I was just losing it at the end and felt like I had nothing left. I came off hurdle seven and thought ‘I’ve got to get to the end of this’ but I got a second wind so that was quite good.”
Johnson-Thompson added: “It was really good, I was just nervous about actually doing it. I think I went out a bit too steady so I had to pick it up towards the end. I’m happy with that race, I’m just glad that I didn’t come to a grinding halt, that was my biggest fear.”
In the men’s 100m, Mike Rodgers, fresh from his 4x100m win at the World Relays in Bahamas last week, took the victory on the Deansgate track ahead of Kilty, the evergreen Kim Collins and Ujah. The USA sprinter went through the finish line in 10.25, in front of GB & NI’s World and European Indoor 60m gold medallist Kilty, who posted a time of 10.29.
There were also victories for Churandy Martina in the 150m, Orlando Ortega in the 110m hurdles, Yarisley Silva in the pole vault, LJ Van Zyl in the 200m hurdles and Jessica Young in the 100m.
Jo Pavey and Haille Gebrselassie are just two of the names taking part in tomorrow’s Great Manchester Run. For more information, please visit: https://www.greatrun.org/