After a recent trip over to America where all I was able to do was treadmill running, I couldn’t wait to arrive back in the UK to witness the London Diamond League.
This Diamond League event has become known as the Anniversary Games. Simply to remember the anniversary of the London 2012 Olympics in the very same Olympic Stadium. The first of these Anniversary Games came back in 2013 which brought great memories and repeats of the very events which took place, such as Mo Farah once more running away from Tariku Bekele to win the 3000m.
This years event was highly anticipated. The organisers had obviously been working hard to secure the best possible fields and across the two day spectacle, they were able to invite back 12 of the London gold medalists.
Undoubtedly, the biggest star which they were able to get was that of Usain Bolt, easily the most famous man in the sport who would. He would start off the show by being paraded around the stadium in a vintage car along with the other top athletes. These included the likes of Robbie Grabarz and Renaud Lavillenie (however the men’s pole vault would be delayed until the Saturday).
The most interesting and weirdest thing about the night is the fact that the stadium was only just over half full. There was about 50,000 people in the 80,000 seater stadium which was crazy considering the fact that both Usain Bolt and Mo Farah were running. It might have been due to the horrible weather and rain during the night – although again this would ease down – and really it was a shame that the opportunity for many to see the fastest man of all time was missed by many.
Despite saying this, the atmosphere inside the stadium was still electric. Everyone was getting behind all of the athletes and made the evening really enjoyable with it being a great experience.
We were lucky enough to be able to get seats which were only eight rows back from the front, looking down the home straight. You would think these would be the prefect seats (which they were for seeing the athletes after they had crossed the line), but when they were running – in the 100m especially – they are running towards you and this didn’t provide the best of views to see who was winning. This resulted in lots of looking up at the big screen instead of watching it live.
The action throughout the night would come thick and fast, with there always being something to watch. I think that our position in the stadium was particularly lucky in the fact that we were able to spectate the great high jump competition to fill in when there was nothing on the track.
The high jump was certainly the most entertaining of the night with the athletes being brilliant at getting the crowd on their side and maintaining the energy throughout the competition. There were some big names jumping, including the likes of Olympic medalist Robbie Grabarz and Mutaz Essa Barshim, the indoor world record holder. However, it would not be Barshim’s night, going out after failing the relatively tiny height of 2.28m.
The big showman of the high jump was certainly Gianmarco Tamberi who sported half a beard and excellent gymnastic abilities. He would engage he whole crowd throughout his series of jumps, but went out at 2.28m also allowing Marco Fassinotti to win at 2.31m, these heights were all relatively low due to the difficulty of jumping in the wet.
The first of the big races of the nihght came with the women’s 400m which as many events did, included many British runners such as Christine Christine Ohuruogu. This race turned out not to be a super fast race with it being dominated from start to finish by Natasha Hastings, winning in 50.24.
This was swiftly followed by the men’s 110mh heats where Lawrence Clarke and David Omoregie made it through to the final. Omoregie was the U23 European Champion from a couple of weeks ago and set a brilliant PB in the heats of 13.50 seconds. However, neither Brits could back this up in the fast final which saw Jason Richardson run away with the victory in 13.19.
Another big return to the Olympic stadium came for Jessica Ennis-Hill who returned in the 100mh. This was a much needed race to test her fitness levels for potential Beijing selection and she was able to live u to expectation despite racing in such a high quality field. It was a vey strong race won in 12.47 (MR) by Jasmin Stowers, however it would be a great return to form for Ennis-Hill running 12.79.
Certainly the biggest event of the night was the men’s 100m. This included a brilliant range of runners over the two heats for the final, where Usain Bolt would be returning from injury and trying to prove the critics wrong and that he will be ready for the Beijing world Championships.
This would be a big test for Bolt, he had already missed two Diamond League events in both Paris and Lausanne due to injury and this would be one of the final opportunities for him to post a better time than his pedestrian 10.12. When Bolt lined up in the second heat he certainly meant business. Despite a slow start out of the blocks, he expected the middle part of the race well separating himself from the rest of the field which allowed him to ease up before the line, running a great time of 9.87.
The final wouldn’t be the same however – in terms of quality of performance from Bolt. Bolt would actually run the same time in the final as he did in the heats (9.87), however it was far from as good of a run, having to work and stretch all of the way. The performance of the race was that of CJ Ujah who competed all the way, running an equalling PB of 9.96.
One of the races of the day for me was the women’s 1500m which included top British runners of Jessica Judd and Laura Weightman. The crowd were brilliant in this race, really getting being Weightman over the last lap which she ran from the front all the way to the finish with a 63 second last lap.
The final race of the day was that of the men’s 3000m where Mo Farah would be racing for the first time in the UK since the doping allegations against the Nike Oregon Project. The race was again one which replicated those brilliant two gold medals which he won in the same stadium in the Olympics. Farah wouldn’t follow the pace and decided to sit back and wait until the last kilometre before making any real move. But it would be the last 500m where Farah really picked up the pace, running a 60 second penultimate lap and then a 55.34 last lap to run a world leading time of 7.34.66, proving he is going to be very tough to beat in Beijing.
Full results from the event are available here.