December 13, 2017

Diamond League: Anniversary Games (2)

The second day of the Anniversary Games was very different in many ways. The most noticeable of which was the change in weather, now it was much clearer, warm and luckily dry. This made for some brilliant athletics spectating; our view was one very different from the first day, now positioned higher up and overlooking the top bend and down the home straight, giving in my opinion a better view although further from the action.

A very nice touch to the start of the day was the lap of honour for the Great Britain Junior and Youth athletes which I previously mentioned in my European Junior Championships report.

Junior and Youth teams
Junior and Youth teams

Our vantage point would give us a brilliant viewpoint for the amazing start to the competition. The women’s long jump was well underway with Jessica Ennis-Hill, Jasmin Sawyers and Shara Procter all jumping well. As this event was coming to a close, the women’s 100m heats were to line up also on the opposite side the long jump.

Women’s 100m
In the first heat of the 100m, Dina Asher-Smith ran against Murielle Ahoure, one of the top women sprinters over the past few years. However, Asher-Smith was able to show were national record holder class and stretch away from Ahoure over the last 30m to take victory, but in the process also run n amazing new national record of 10.99 seconds, making her the first British women to run under 11 seconds, AND she is still only 19 years old, making her one of the brightest projects for the future! It was a shame though – although not surprising after all the tough racing previous – that Asher-Smith couldn’t recreate the same in the final, coming in third behind some of the worlds top sprinters, still showing her world class competitiveness.

Dina Asher-Smith on her way to 10.99 NR
Dina Asher-Smith on her way to 10.99 NR

Women’s Long Jump
Meanwhile, Procter had grasped the victory already in the long jump, also being the best of the British, ahead of Sawyers (6.66m) and Katarina Johnson-Thompson (6.50m). She was left with one final jump to which the crowd really got being whilst still in awe of what was just witnessed in the 100m heats. With this being the case, Proctor proceeded to jump out to a massive distance of 6.98m, further than her previous national record of 6.95m. This was again brilliantly received by the stadium, really adding to the already amazing atmosphere with there being two British records in the space of two minutes.

Men’s 400m
The men’s 400m would be a tough race for both Britons (Martyn Rooney and Rabah Yousif) who struggled to finish with the same pace as the South African Wayde Van Niekerk who won in a time of 44.63 seconds.

Men's 400m
Men’s 400m

Women’s 5000m
The first distance race of the day was the women’s 5000m, something that initially wouldn’t catch too much attention due to the lack of the world leading runners of Genzebe Dibaba and Almaz Ayana. However, the race would develop into probably the most tense and exciting races of the afternoon. Molly Huddle of the US would be the only athlete to follow the pace, with the entire pack trailing off the back with the distance between ever increasing.

This was a tough tactic for Huddle to hold with the race being run all alone from the front. This would allow the pack to slowly claw her back until a single runner of Mercy Cherono would be on her tail with 400m to go. The crowd would really get behing Huddle here, urging her on to hold onto the victory, however she just didn’t quite have enough over the last 100m where she faded slightly to second in a respectful 14:57.42.

Molly Huddle couldn't withstand the Kenyan charge
Molly Huddle couldn’t withstand the Kenyan charge

Women’s 800m
The effect of the crowd certainly showed to make a difference to the performances, as shown on the first night of the Games with Laura Weightman fighting off the US challenges. It was also shown in the very fast women’s 800m where Eunice Sum would inevitably come away with victory in 1:58.44, but also was there a brilliant run for third by Lynsey Sharp in 1:59.57.

Women's 800m
Women’s 800m

Men’s 800m
Arguably one of the most highly anticipated races of the day was that of the men’s 800m. For me especially, this was going to be so interesting to see how the new European Junior Champion, Kyle Langford would be able to perform in this time trial experience.

The stage for a fast race could not have been set up more perfectly. Both the gold and silver medalists from the greatest athletics race of all time at the 2012 Olympic games were lining up against each other once more. David Rudisha and Nigel Amos have had a long racing history, where in the more recent years, Amos has come out on top.

Rudisha decided to hold off on the opening lap
Rudisha decided to hold off on the opening lap

This would be the case once again here in London. Rudisha would adopt his usual front running style, but would settle into a slow pace behind the American Berian who went through 400m in about 50 seconds. Rudisha made a string move at 600m but wouldn’t be able to hold off the charge of Amos from behind over the last 50m who won in 1:44.57. This was an interesting indicator to where Rudisha currently is at, it shows that he isn’t as confident in his own ability as he previously has been; with the fact that he won’t take up a front running position puts into question his form. What was also shown is that he doesn’t have the raw fishing speed of the likes of Amos so a front running tactic may be his only option in Beijing.

Men's 800m
Men’s 800m

As for the Britons – Langford and Rimmer – however would perform to their absolute best. Rimmer would indeed run again under the qualifying mark of 1:46.00, securing his spot on the plane to Beijing. But, it was Langford’s real big breakthrough, taking almost two seconds off his personal best to run the third fastest time by a British Junior of 1:45.78. This would be enough for the selectors to give him a place on the senior World Championships team.

Men’s Mile
The stacked field in the last distance race, the mile, promised to create the race of the day. Every single 1500/ mile runner you can think of (barring Olympic Champion Taoufik Makhloufi) was lined up for what could have been an extremely fast race, following that of the Monaco 1500m where Kiprop ran 3:26. As well as the really big names of Kiprop, Cento and Souleiman, there was strong interest for the British runners too, many of whom still looking for the 1500m qualifying mark.

One of the best fields assembled in the Mile
One of the best fields assembled in the Mile

This race would sadly turn out to be a very different one to those really fast races which we have seen recently. The fast 1:52 (800m) pace which which was asked for was never really followed despite Kiprop making weird surges and controlling things from the front. This would turn out to be one of the weirdest races I’ve seen with Kiprop almost coming to a stop and jogging to last place over the penultimate lap. This allows the Britons to take control of the race, with Charlie Grice showing his strength at the front.

With the pace not being a fast one, we would see an almighty burn up over the last 300m between the big three previously mentioned. Kiprop however, showed he had everything you need to be a champion, sprinting away over the last 100m ahead of Centrowitz to win in a slowish 3:54.87. The big performance came from Grice however, mixing it with these champions over the last 100m, taking 4th in 3:55.27.

Kiprop dominated once more
Kiprop dominated once more

The sadly wasn’t the entire outcome which everyone was looking for, with the pace not being a fast one, the Britons still looking for the time missed this opportunity despite all finishing strong; everyone in the field ran under 4:00. I believe if the pace were a strong one, the likes of Ross Murray and Tom Lancashire could certainly have challenged for the time.

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