26 January 2013
Kick-starting the 2013 British Athletics Series at Glasgow’s new Emirates Arena, the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team finished third in the British Athletics Glasgow International Match as Russia took their first victory in six years.
In the first competition under the new British Athletics banner and having moved from its usual venue at Kelvin Hall in the Scottish city, the competition welcomed a British record and two British victories as the GB&NI squad scored 50 points to Russia and the USA’s 58. Germany, meanwhile registered 49 points, while the Commonwealth Select team collected 40, in the city which will host the Commonwealth Games next summer.
The home team highlights belonged to Dai Greene (Coach: Malcolm Arnold), who sped to an impressive 600m British record, and to Dwain Chambers (Rana Reider) and Holly Bleasdale (Dan Pfaff, Scott Simpson) for their victories in the 60m and pole vault, respectively.
Adding extra flare to the format and capitalizing on the success of the London Paralympics last summer, the fixture saw disability events included for the first time in the match’s 21-year history, though these were not counted in the competition score.
In a fascinating and rare 600m contest, world 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene got the better of Olympic 800m finalist and world indoor bronze-medalist, Andrew Osagie (Craig Winrow) in arguably the most talked about battle of the day.
Representing the Commonwealth Select team, Greene sped to a fine 1:16.22 national best as Osagie additionally bettered the previous best mark with 1:16.45 in a thrilling finish – though both athletes finished adrift of the USA’s Duane Solomon, who broke the American record with a 1:15.70 clocking.
Fifth in the Olympics, Welshman Greene took a break from moving house on the eve of the competition to break Ikem Billy’s 28-year-old British record in his first race at the distance since 2006 and said afterwards:
“I enjoyed the race. I enjoyed running indoors for a change and doing a 600m. I was very much out of my comfort zone but I enjoyed testing myself. I’m pleased with the time and I wish I had put a bit more of a challenge in early doors on Duane but I think he ran a great race. I would love to do it again in the near future.
“It’s nice to get the national record. I knew that either Andrew or myself would get it so I just made sure I beat him to the line.
“The competition between Andrew and myself is all very friendly. We’re all good friends here on the team. I think we enjoyed taking each other out of our comfort zone. It’s something that’s not exactly our specialty event. You can’t really read much into it other than that it was a good competitive race and I hope everyone enjoyed it.”
Former European indoor 60m champion Dwain Chambers impressed in a 60m showdown with former world 100m champion Kim Collins of St Kitts and Nevis, who ran for the Commonwealth squad – Chambers winning in 6.58 to Collins’ 6.65.
The 34-year-old world indoor bronze-medallist and Olympic 100m semi-finalist explained:
“The season’s started very well. I’m very pleased with that. It’s still early days though and I’ve got races in Moscow as well as the national trials where I want to be able to qualify comfortably for the Euros, and hopefully I can go from strength to strength from there onwards.
“I’m most definitely eyeing up the European Indoors. The goal is to put up a performance indoors and that involves getting the European title back. I’m going to do my best to achieve that and hopefully that’ll carry me through to greater success throughout the summer.
“I’m always looking longer term too. I’ve still got the enthusiasm to go out there and run, and while the wheels are still spinning as fast as they are I’m going to keep on going.”
Equally as impressive on the in-field, British indoor and outdoor pole vault record-holder Holly Bleasdale continued her 2013 campaign in fine style, with a 4.60m victory.
The 21-year-old – who since finishing fifth in the Olympics shares her time between training in Cardiff and Phoenix, Arizona - pushed Russia’s Anastasiya Savchenko into second, who cleared the same mark but at the second attempt to Bleasdale’s first.
After first-time clearances at 4.35m, 4.50m and her final clearance, Bleasdale failed her trio of attempts at 4.70m, as did her Russian counterpart but will be pleased with her consistency after leaping 4.62m in France earlier this month.
“I’m happy to jump 4.60m. The track and the setup was really good here. I’ve been working on a lot of technical aspects so it’s good to know that I’m still jumping as high as I know I can,” she revealed.
“I would have liked to have jumped 4.70m but I was happy with the way that I think the technical things that I’ve been working on have come through.”
Putting on an impressive display, Paralympic silver-medallist Stef Reid (Keith Antoine) took the F44 long jump with an eye-catching run of consistency on her indoor debut.
Also fourth in the 200m at the London Games, Reid leapt a best of 4.90m after a series including 4.87m, 4.79m, 4.79m and 4.76m, as Japan’s Maya Nakanishi registered 4.78m in second place.
“I absolutely loved it. I haven’t done anything since the London Paralympics. Nothing compares to the thrill you get from competing here and the high you get.
“It was really different competing indoors, it’s quite intimate and it’s nice. You don’t have to deal with things like weather, I can’t remember the last time I only failed one jump in a competition so it’s nice to have no wind and the elements to deal with.
“It was a bit crazy, a different experience but I absolutely loved it. I’m OK with my performance, it’s a different time of the season and we’re working on specific things. I came here to win and I did that so I’m quite pleased with it. I was really hoping for over 5m but that’s just because I’m greedy.”
Three members of the British gold medal-winning T37 4x100m relay team from the London Games contested the T37 60m, with Paralympics 100m sixth-placer Katrina Hart (Robert Ellchuk) coming out on top with a fine 9.00 victory.
The 22-year-old clocked 9.34 earlier this month and revealed afterwards:
“It was really good. I ran last week and I knew I was in good shape and this week it came together really well so it was nice to run well again.
“It’s brilliant for disability events to be here, the crowd was awesome. I think it will keep growing and growing.”
Sixteen year-old Olivia Breen (Leroy Elliott) – fifth in the 100m in London - registered 9.12, while Jenny McLoughlin (Darrell Maynard) finished fourth in 9.25.
T46 100m Paralympic bronze-medallist Ola Abidogun (Stephen Thomas) stormed to an impressive 7.26 personal best, taking the men’s T46 60m.
The 19-year-old from Horwich had a previous best of 7.45 and enjoyed a comfortable win over Japan’s Tomoki Tagawa (7.35).
“I felt great, I’m not a big 60m fan but I think I’m starting to come to like it a lot more as I get older and I feel a lot more confident. That was a really good start, I’ll just go from race to race – that was my first race of the season and it blew away the cobwebs, he said afterwards.”
Meanwhile, fellow Brit, 16-year-old Kyle Powell (Paul MacGregor) finished sixth with 7.57. 16.
Following his speech as team captain for the British outfit, Olympic bronze-medalist and European high jump champion Robbie Grabarz (coach: Fayyaz Ahmed) pushed Russia’s world indoor silver-medallist Alexey Dmitrik in a thrilling battle, as the latter narrowly took victory with 2.31m to the former’s 2.29m best effort.
The 25-year-old national outdoor record-holder cleared the 2.25m mark at his second attempt before leaping 2.29m at the first and then suffered two fouls at the 2.31m mark and conceding defeat after fouling his first attempt at 2.33m – one centimetre below his personal best.
Competing for the first time since recording an 11.70 100m and 2:29.99 800m en route to finishing third in the BBC’s filming of an Olympians special of ‘Superstars’ in November, Grabarz explained after the competition:
“It was good. It was nice to be challenged in my first competition. I took a risk and passed a bar to try and win it because I was in second place on count back.
“It was great fun and I enjoyed myself. It’s a good solid opener. It was a good atmosphere so it was really enjoyable.”
Further back in fourth and wearing the Commonwealth vest, Allan Smith (Bryan Roy) continued his breakthrough form with a superb 2.23m Scottish record.
The performance was sterling on his senior national debut and now the 20-year-old is growing ever nearer to the British all-time top-ten list.
Smith cleared the 2.10m mark on his third attempt but registered 2.23m on attempt number-two and – bouyed by his confidence - tried 2.26m three times in vain.
Back on the boards, Olympic 400m hurdles semi-finalists Perri Shakes-Drayton (Chris Zah) and Eilidh Child (Malcolm Arnold) enjoyed a good day as the former pushed five-time world and Olympic gold-medallist Natasha Hastings to finish second in her indoor 400m debut with a promising 52.13 to the American’s 52.11.
Scotland’s Child, meanwhile – in her first indoor race since the 2008 season - finished fourth in a 52.88 personal best while representing the Commonwealth squad.
One quarter of the winning World indoor 4x400m outfit, 24-year-old Shakes-Drayton said:
“It was fun, it was fast, it was over too quickly.
“It was good to do something different. I’ve always been the person in that last spot for the 400m relay, so to be given a chance to prove myself over 400m individual and to run a decent time, I’m please with that.”
Following a training stint in South Africa, Conrad Williams (Linford Christie) returned to British shores to register a solid 21.52 in the 200m behind the USA’s Kind Butler (21.26) and Kim Collins (21.37).
Williams, the 2012 winner and Olympic 400m semi-finalist, reveled afterwards:
“It feel good to be out there, it’s good to get the cobwebs out. That was a good race, I’m glad I was chosen to do it and I’m just looking forward to all my races to come.
“It’s good to be out here. The crowd always support you when you’re in GB colours, but until you come out here you never know where you’re at so it’s good to know where I’m at.”
After winning this event twelve months ago, Margaret Adeoye (Linford Christie) returned to finish a close runner-up in 23.48 behind Russia’s Olga Belkina (23.41).
The Olympic semi-finalist said following her exertions:
“It was OK, I’m not happy but it was OK.
“It was wicked and the crowd are amazing, that’s probably the best part of today. I could hear them cheering for me and that was the best part of the day.
“I do feel in good shape, I really do. I just don’t think I got it right today, going round the first bend I didn’t drive so I popped up and then I paid for it later on in the race.”
Further back, competing for the Commonwealth Select team, Scotland’s three-time Olympian Lee McConnell (Rodger Harkins) finished fifth with 24.18.
Olympic 400m semi-finalist Nigel Levine (Linford Christie) strode to a 46.74 clocking over two laps to finish runner-up behind Russia’s 2012 winner, Pavel Trenikhin (46.30).
Levine had the consolation of beating the Bahamas’ Olympic 4x400m gold-medallist Chris Brown – racing here for the Commonwealth team – as he finished adrift in 47.33.
“It was alright for my first race. 46.7 isn’t that bad, but I’ve got to take it as it comes. I’ve got more to come,” he said.
“It was pretty good to compete in front of this crowd, Glasgow is a nice place. I was here two years ago for this match and I love the atmosphere. Everyone has turned out and the stadium is full so it’s great support.”
Paralympic T12 100m silver-medalist Libby Clegg (Keith Antoine) finished third behind Brazil’s Terezinha Guilhermina in the T11/12 60m in her debut indoor competition.
The 22-year-old clocked 8.37 to the victor’s 8.17:
“I was a bit nervous because I’ve not ran on my own for a long time but these things happen and in future I need to be a little bit more prepared and maybe make sure I’ve got a backup that’s more available. It’s just one of those things,” she said.
“It was fantastic to compete in front of a Scottish crowd, it was great that everyone came out to support us. We don’t get this many people attending any Paralympic events, apart from at the Games, so it’s great to compete in front of a big crowd.”
Meanwhile, Olympic 100m and 200m representative Aniyka Onoura (Christine Bowmaker) finished fourth in the 60m with 7.39, while Germany’s European champion Verena Sailer took the impressive scalp of Carmelita Jeter, the second fastest woman of all time over 100m – with 7.16 to Jeter’s 7.28.
Enjoying the home crowd support, Scotland’s Olympic 800m semi-finalist Lynsey Sharp (Terrence Mahon) returned from a spell of high-altitude training in Kenya to finish fourth in the four-lap event with a 2:05.23 personal best in her first indoor race in five years.
The European outdoor runner-up finished more than a second behind Russia’s Olympic bronze-medallist Ekaterina Poistogova (2:04.04).
The 22-year-old from Edinburgh – who hopes to be a medal contender at the Commonwealth Games here next summer – revealed afterwards:
“It felt OK, it was slow but I just forgot what indoors was like because I haven’t done it for so many years. I got in a bad position on the first lap and I was constantly working to try and get out of it and then I stupidly was watching the clock at the end and got pipped on the line.
“The crowd was amazing, when they introduced me I was almost crying and I needed to concentrate. It was like it was in London.”
Making his senior international debut, 19-year-old Charlie Grice (Jon Bigg) took more than three seconds off his year-old personal best, clocking an impressive 3:45.05 behind winner Bethwel Birgen of Kenya – the 2011 world 1500m bronze-medallist who wore the Commonwealth colours (3:38.37).
Ninth in the European junior cross-country championships last month, Grice explained afterwards:
“It was really hard. I went off really fast against world-class opposition and died a bit at the end.
“It was good experience and I enjoyed it. I ran a PB indoors so it's still quite good.”
Also on her senior GB&NI debut and in the metric mile event, Glasgow university student Laura Muir (Andy Young) registered 4:24.40 for fourth place, as Germany’s Corinna Harrer won with 4:22.10.
Muir – who sped to a 9:02.35 3,000m personal best here earlier this month – revealed:
“It was good, I’m just trying to make the most of the experience. I was waiting for them to kick and I was caught a little bit off guard.
“I was glad I was fourth and I’m just chuffed to be on the team. If I’d ran a good race and finished last I still would have been happy.”
In-field, heptathlon specialist Dominique Blaize (Julie Hollman) took to the long jump runway and finished third with a 6.22m leap behind Russia’s 2011 European indoor champion Darya Klishina (6.44m).
Blaize twice registered 6.02 and endured two no-jumps, as Jade Nimmo (Darren Ritchie) – representing the Commonwealth – placed fifth with a best distance of 6.00m during a consistent series of jumps which never dipped below 5.81m.
“It was good, the crowd were fantastic. It helped watching Robbie in between rounds, that was always good so it was fun.
“I would have liked to have had a better series. The runway still needs a lot of work, I can tell I’m still competition rusty with this being by first one so I’m looking forward to going back to the drawing board and going to Trials and seeing what happens there.”
Following his recent third place finish in the Great Edinburgh cross-country international, Andy Vernon (Nic Bideau) clocked 8:00.80 in fourth place in the 3,000m as multiple world and Olympic medallist Bernard Lagat (USA) stormed to a scorching and comfortable 7:53.36 victory.
“It was pretty tough actually. We went out quite slow running 63s and 64s for the first couple of laps and then it dropped a little bit which is when I went into the lead. I thought, ‘if I’m going to come here I might as well try and do something,’” Vernon said.
“I picked it up a little bit and it probably wasn’t really fast enough and the Russian took over. After that I was struggling for pace, I’ve just done three cross country races on the trot.”
Former European Under-23 silver medallist Gianni Frankis (Tony Jarrett) finished fourth in the 60m hurdles with a solid 7.78 clocking, as Russia’s European champion Sergey Shubenkov registered 7.62.
“It was quite good. This is my season opener and I kept in the pack there. I wasn’t too far away from athletes that have won European Championships and things like that.
“I feel good, my training has been doing well and you’re always rusty with your season opener but I felt good and I might be surprised by my time.”
In the women’s equivalent, Serita Solomon finished a respectable third with a 8.26 personal best clocking behind Germany’s Cindy Roleder, who registered 8.18 for the win.
World silver medallist Danielle Carruthers of the USA, meanwhile, was not too far ahead of the 22-year-old Briton, crossing the line in 8.22.
Solomon was satisfied with her afternoon’s effort after reducing her 8.37 best mark:
“It was loads of fun, I really enjoyed it. It was my first race of the season so glad to have got a PB.
“It should set me up well for the rest of the season, I'm looking forward to trials now.”
Suffering from injury, world indoor triple jump champion Yamile Aldama (Frank Attoh) endured an off-day on her season debut, fouling four attempts and finishing fifth and last with a lackluster 13.16m effort.
The 40-year-old 2012 winner in this match finished behind Germany’s Jenny Elbe, the 2009 European junior bronze-medalist, who leapt 13.90m.
“I had an injury problem last week in South Africa. I didn't want to push it today because I didn't want to get hurt. I couldn't run 100% and I jumped with a shorter approach.”