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Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix

Dai Greene

10 July 2011

The latest of the Diamond League series and the first of the three UK-based Aviva Series meetings this summer, the West Midlands-bound spectators were treated to an ideal meet with quality world class performances and home-grown winners.

With Dai Greene, Mo Farah, Phillips Idowu and Jenny Meadows all taking popular victories, it was a superb feast of Sunday afternoon athletics action.

Report:

Dai Greene (coach: Malcolm Arnold) obliterated the Stadium Record held by the legendary Edwin Moses with a superb victory against a world class field in the men’s 400m hurdles. Yet what made the Welshman’s victory all the more impressive was the technical prowess in holding his form for a sprint finish against American Bershawn Jackson during the meet’s worst period of rainfall.

Greene was under pressure all the way through to the line, and although Jackson and Javier Culson were breathing down his neck at the final hurdle he took it cleanly and led them home in 48.20secs to an ecstatic reception from the Birmingham crowd. He was then followed in fourth place by his young training partner Jack Green who also PB’d with 48.98 – setting him up with a great send off to the European Under 23 Championships this week.

Greene said: “I'm very pleased with a season's best in horrible conditions and I'm happy - very happy - to get the win. I need to be competitive with these guys and I'm at the top at the moment.

“I won my first Diamond League of the season in Lausanne and my second this week so it's given me a lot of momentum. It was also good to see Jack running a PB and getting stronger, he's got a bright future ahead of him.”

Another athlete with a bright future and even brighter present is Mo Farah (Alberto Salazar) who did not disappoint the crowd with a brilliant tactical display to take the 5000m victory in 13:06.14 – complete with a 54 second last lap.

Farah, who has not competed in the UK since his stunning UK 10,000m record in Eugene last month, lapped up the crowd appreciation and treated them to a thrilling last 400m sprint against Ethiopian World Leader Imane Merga, eventually crossing the line seven tenths of a second ahead of his USA training partner Galen Rupp.

Farah said: “It's so nice to win and finish one-two with Galen. I just love racing, that's what I enjoy and I look forward to being on the start line. People have asked me or questioned me about my move to the States, but as an athlete you've always got to be looking at how to improve yourself and what you can do better.

“Quite often you have to make sacrifices, but you have to be prepared to cover ever move in a race and you've got to get it right on the day. The gym work I’ve been doing has made me stronger and the speedwork has made me faster as you can see, so it's worth it.”

In the hugely anticipated men’s triple jump competition between Great Britain’s own reigning World and European champion Phillips Idowu (Aston Moore) and Frenchman Teddy Tamgho it was a home victory for Idowu who was warmly supported in the very venue from where he does most of his training.

With conditions damp, some of the spring was removed from the triple jump line up but Idowu, as ever, put in a top class effort taking the win with a third round 17.54m, whilst Tamgho’s best effort of the day was 16.74m.

After, Idowu said: “It was a funny competition today. I managed to pull out one or two decent jumps but the conditions were not great. After my 17.54 I thought had a little more jump in my legs but it never quite came together.

“For me the main thing is that I'm consistent. In pretty much all my competitions this year I've been around 17.50m so it looks good. We are a month and 20 days or so away from the World Championships and that's what's most important. If I am consistent around that time hopefully I can find another 15cm.”

In the women’s 800m the home support were treated to the site of Jenny Meadows (Trevor Painter) in fine form in taking victory in a close sprint finish.

After the pack had a relatively conservative start, Meadows took to the front ahead of fellow Brit Marilyn Okoro (Ayo Falola) at the 200m mark and held off the fast finishing Slovakian Lucia Klocova for a popular win in 2:02.06, with Stoke’s Emma Jackson (Alan Morris) in close proximity with third place in 2:02.18

“It was really unusual it was such a slow race today. I thought it would be, but maybe not as slow as that. I am thrilled to win a tactical race,” said Meadows.

“I really held back and it's not natural for me to do that but that was the orders today. I was bumped and I was barged but I stayed on my feet. I am really thrilled I can take the win in front of a home crowd.

“The women's 800m is all to play for in Daegu this year. It would be great if I could surpass the bronze that I got two years ago. This is a great stepping stone for the Worlds.”

In the men’s 100m Asafa Powell provided a quality display for the Midlands crowd in both his heat and final with victories in 9.95secs and 9.91secs  respectively – his 9.91 final victory eclipsing his Jamaican teammates Nesta Carter and Michael Frater who crossed the line in 9.93 and 10.01.

Newly crowned UK record holder Holly Bleasdale (Julien Raffalli) enjoyed a strong outing over a quality women’s pole vault field, almost springing a surprise on her high quality rivals with a second place clearing 4.61m on her first attempt. Amongst those she beat on the day were reigning world indoor champion Brazilian Fabian Murer, however Germany’s Silke Spiegelburg took the win with 4.66m.

In the men’s 800m, there was a run-away victory for Sudan’s Abubaker Kaki with 1:44.54, Mukhtar Mohammed (Mustafa Mohamed) finishing as best of the British contingent  in fourth with 1:46.66, just ahead of James Shane (Martin Brown) who set a lifetime best of 1:46.70 which marked a continuation of his superb season where he has impressed across the middle distances.

Another athlete also enjoying superb form this year is Helen Clitheroe (John Nuttall), and stepping out over her former favourite distance of 1500m she acquitted herself well with a fourth place in 4:06.49. Behind her however, was youngster Stacey Smith (Mick Woods) who set a new lifetime best of 4:06.81 for fifth against world class opposition, in the race won by Morgan Uceny of the USA.

Clitheroe said:  “If I'm honest, when I looked at the start list I thought 'oh my gosh', I could be last here!

“I've not really been training for the 1500m so to come fourth in such a quality field, beat some really good names and put in a decent time is great.”

In the women’s sprints, the 200m race produced a lifetime best for Anyika Onuora (Lloyd Cowan) finishing in seventh place in 23.06, USA’s Bianca Knight the victor in a swift 22.59.

Over the 100m hurdles, there was a thrilling display of hurdling prowess from Australian Sally Pearson with 12.48 to set a World Leading mark and meeting record, whilst Britain’s Tiffany Ofili-Porter was sixth in 12.93.

In the men’s javelin, James Campbell (Mick Hill) was seventh with a best throw of 75.96m but leading the field with his 2011 world leading mark was Norway’s Andreas Thorkildsen with 88.30m.  Meanwhile, also on the infield, Croatian Blanka Vlasic took the women’s high jump victory with 1.99m

In the On Camp With Kelly women’s 800m race, there was a welcome win for Rowena Cole (Norma Pugh) in a new lifetime best of 2:03.61, following on her impressive win at the European Junior championship trials.

In the women’s 3000m steeplechase the win was taken by Ethiopian Sofia Assefa in 9:25.87, but there were strong GB performances from Barbara Parker  (Sean Burris) in fourth in 9:37.25 and European U23 Championship-bound Eilish McColgan (Liz McColgan) – who clocked a new PB and Scottish National Record of 9:47.03.

Jade Nicholls (Andrew Neal) was the first of the home interest to perform at the start of the programme. Her 58.64m  placed seventh in the women’s discus competition won by German Nadine Muller in 65.75m.

In the long jump, Shara Proctor was seventh with 6.42m – USA’s Janay Deloach won with 6.78m.

Other highlights from the programme were:

In the National men’s 400m race Richard Davenport (Nick Dakin) took a deserved victory in a PB of 49.91secs.

The women’s ambulant 200m race was won in 26.66 by Libby Clegg (Keith Antoine), whilst Switzerland’s Marcel Hug won the men’s T54 1500m in 3:17.86.

Canada’s Dylan Armstrong won the men’s shot competition with 21.55m, whilst reigning Commonwealth Games champion Amantle Montsho won the women’s 400m in 50.20 – GB’s Shana Cox finishing sixth in 51.63.

For full results from Sunday's Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix meeting please visit the Diamond League website