15 February 2014
There were four British winners in today’s Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix, as the world’s biggest indoor athletics meet once again proved a thrilling show for those attending the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham.
And whilst the world class sprint performances on show did not disappoint, it was the gutsy world-beating, Scottish-National-Record-breaking, personal-best-achieving 1500m win by Laura Muir (Coach: Andy Young) that proved the pick of the British performances on show.
Tracking the early leaders in the women’s field she moved up into the lead with 200m to go and was strong enough over the final lap to hold off the relentless attack of Dutch athlete Sifan Hassan, who also broke her own national record in pursuit of Muir.
“I was really shocked; I didn’t know I could run that fast. I felt really good and I found myself holding myself back at some points so it was really good,” said Muir.
“The likes of Obiri and Hassan are world class athletes so it gives me a lot of confidence.
“It makes it a bit difficult (running well over both 800m and 1500m) to choose, I think 800m for the worlds but it would be hard to say which is better for me at the moment.”
James Dasaolu (Steve Fudge) was a hugely dominant force over 60m with a 6.50sec winning time in the final ahead of Jamaican Nesta Carter in 6.53 and crowd favourite Kim Collins in 6.55.
But the sight of him pulling up with a twinge as he crossed the line will no doubt be a concern – nevertheless it was a fine afternoon’s work from the Loughborough based sprinter, who will receive a scan on a potential thigh strain on Monday.
The semi finals had seen Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut and Dasaolu win their respective heats, with Dasaolu’s time of 6.47 the fastest in the world this year, whist Collins and Dwain Chambers (Reider) were also looking strong.
Yet in the final, Dasaolu was the clear winner with Carter just pipping the evergreen Collins for the second spot.
Of his faltering finish he said: “My left leg felt tight at about 40-50m. I think it’s cramp but I’ll go and see the doctors and see what they say.”
The women’s 60m final saw a fascinating run off between Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Murielle Ahoure and British duo Asha Philip (Christine Bowmaker) and Sophie Papps (Dan Cossins).
Whilst the winner of the final was Ahoure (7.10) ahead of Fraser-Pryce (also 7.10), Philip was right in the mix in third with 7.12.
The first British win of the afternoon had, however, come courtesy of the further-rejuvenated Holly Bleasdale (Scott Simpson) who for the third time this season vaulted a height in excess of 4.70m, clearing 4.71m for victory.
Bleasdale said: “That was my third consecutive jump over 4.70m and if you’d told me this time last year that I’d be in this position I’d have been really happy.
“It wasn’t a great day today; I felt a bit rusty and things were a little bit stiff but if I can jump 4.71m on a bad day then I know the 4.80s and 4.90s will come,” she said.
“I love it here; this is my favourite place in the world to compete. The crowd are amazing; they get behind me and cheer and that gives me a bit of an edge. That’s what helped me win today so I was really happy with it.”
Another British athlete performing well to win against world class opposition was Nigel Levine who took the 400m by storm holding off the Olympic silver medallist Leguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic to win in a personal best of 45.71.
The Sainsbury’s British Athletics Indoor Champion went out strongly in the outside lane and at the break was able to cut across into pole position and was never headed despite a strong challenge.
Yet a non-plussed Levine said: “I don’t know how I feel about that really, it’s all about getting ready for the World Indoors.
“It’s a good job I went off quick because everyone came here to win and I’m happy to win for the fourth time in a row so I can’t complain. The plan is to medal in Poland.”
The highlight of the closing events came by way of a world record in the women’s two mile race. As expected it provided the perfect finale to a day of world class athletics with Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba obliterating the world record, stopping the clock at 9.00.48.
The record marked her third World best in as many races and she lapped almost the whole field, including the first British finisher Steph Twell (Mick Woods), who worked through the field well for third in 9.42.41.
In the men’s 800m Mohammed Aman showed exactly why he is the reigning world champion as he broke the Ethiopian national indoor record with a scintillating 1.44.53 performance.
In doing so he dragged four athletes with him, one of them Britain’s Andrew Osagie (Craig Winrow) took fourth, but more significantly ran 1.44.52, the second fastest indoor time ever by British athlete behind only Lord Sebastian Coe.
“I’m massively happy with that. I’ve had a cold this week, which has been a bit annoying, so I relaxed a little bit too much. On another day if I ran my race well I might have got close to a British record,” said Osagie
“It was very frustrating last weekend, mainly because I travelled to Sheffield for essentially nothing, but I got a lot of confidence from it and ticked the box with championships racing. I got a quick time today going into the World Indoors.”
The women’s 800m saw perennial NIA favourite Jenny Meadows (Trevor Painter) receive a rousing reception upon lining up, but it was fellow Brit Shelayna Oskan-Clarke (Ayo Falola) who performed best of the UK athletes. Winner was Poland’s Angelika Cichoka in 2.01:60, with Clarke in fourth in a PB 2.03:52 and Meadows fifth in 2.03:57.
In the women’s 60m Hurdles, Britain’s Tiffany Porter (Reider) put in a strong performance for second place behind world leading German Nadine Hildebrand. Hildebrand won in 8.04, whilst Porter managed a season’s best 8.07.
Porter said: “This race means I’m progressing and moving in the right direction, which I’m really happy about. I was very nervous beforehand – I felt like it was my first race of the season because I haven’t raced in two weeks. I’m glad I’m healthy and fit and although it wasn’t the best time, I’m looking forward to the next one.
The women’s T37/38 60m sprint saw Russian Margarita Goncharova take the win in 8.53 with Britain’s Sophie Hahn (Joe McDonnell) in second with 8.59.
A delighted Hahn said: “It felt amazing out there. It’s great that Paralympic and Olympic athletes can come together at an event. It’s a really big crowd and I was quite nervous but it was just about the race and getting it right.
“My new start position feels good, I want to get faster and stronger from the start and I feel I’m doing that.”
The men’s T44 60m saw victory go to USA’s Richard Browne in 7.18secs.
“I definitely would have liked to go a bit quicker but my execution was good. I think I pushed a little bit hard and my coach will be pretty upset with me when I get home but my execution was good; my blocks and transition were good,” he said.
“It was a great race with great competitors and British Athletics and Sainsbury’s did a great job putting this meet together.”
The men’s high jump was won by the USA’s Erik Kynard who cleared 2.34m. Third placed Robbie Grabarz was best of the Brits with a 2.27m season’s best – as he began to look more like his former self following a quiet start to the season.
He said: “I’ve improved a little bit from Sheffield; it felt like me again out there so it’s nice. I’m still nowhere near where I should be height wise but it felt like me jumping out there so it was thoroughly enjoyable. This is my favourite meet, I love jumping here, it’s in my back garden so it’s lovely.”
In the men’s 60m hurdles final, the win went to Frenchman Pascal Martinot-Lagarde in 7.55secs whilst Andy Pozzi was sixth in 7.72 having clipped one of his early hurdles. However the good news came by way of the semi final, when the Brit performed superbly to win his heat in 7.57 – signs that the 2012 World Indoor fourth placer was returning to his best following an 18 absence month through injury.
A reflective Pozzi said: “It’s a fine days’ work for me. I’m just really glad to be here competing.
“The heat was good, I felt quite smooth so I’m looking for quicker. In the final I hit hurdle one and in the 60m hurdles you can’t afford to make those mistakes. It’s really promising for me so I’m happy today.”
Another happy individual was Britain’s Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford, who enjoyed his best ever indoor season opener having not competed since the 2013 Moscow World Championships.
Rutherford, who came third with 8.00m with Russian Aleksandr Menkov taking first with 8.14m, was delighted to be in good form in front of the NIA crowd:
“That was absolutely brilliant from my point of view. I felt really good. There are a few things I’ve got to iron out but that’s the best opening I’ve had to an indoor season ever and maybe the best opening to a season at all.
“Obviously I always want to win and I’m very disappointed not to win but I’ve got to be serious with these things. I came back from a massive injury last year which I was worried was going to affect the rest of my career and I’ve managed to jump three jumps better than any British athlete has done this year. I’ve got to be happy to start my season like that.”
In the men’s 3000m Lee Emmanuel (Joe Franklin) showed how confident he is in his current fitness, hanging on to some of the best distance runners in the world to secure the IAAF World Indoor Championships qualifying time with a 7.45.12 personal best.
At the front though, victory went the way of Hagos Gebrehiwet in a last lap burn up from Ethiopian compatriots Dejene Gebremeskel and Yenew Alamirew, the clock stopping at 7.35.73.
The men’s 1500m saw another last lap burn up with Nixon Chepseba of Kenya proving strongest down the home straight to take victory in 3.37.19. Leading the Brits home was Charlie Grice (Jon Bigg) who broke his personal best clocking 3.39.94 to finish seventh.
In the National 400m races there were a number of World Indoor Relay slots still available on both GB & NI men’s and women’s teams for Poland.
The women’s race was first off and Shana Cox (George Williams) made up for her disqualification at last weekend’s Sainsbury’s British Athletics Indoor Championships by leading from gun to tape to secure an individual 400m qualifying time of 52.93. In the men’s race Richard Buck (Nick Dakin) followed on in a similar fashion, taking the win, as well as a Poland standard beating 46.09 time away with him.
The women’s 400m international race was won by American Regina George in 51.78sec, whilst Eilidh Child (Malcolm Arnold) and Margaret Adeoye (Linford Christie) were third and fourth respectively in 52.49 and 52.79.
The women’s long jump was won by German Sostene Moguenara with a best leap of 6.49m. Best of the Brits was Amy Harris (Aston Moore) in fifth with 6.29m.
Finally, the Club:Connect relays that kicked off the meeting were won by medley relay teams from Birchfield Harriers – the club winning both the girls and boy’s races.
For full results follow this link: http://www.britishathletics.org.uk/british-athletics-series/sainsburys-indoor-grand-prix/event-schedule/