The weather tried its best, but still could not ruin the day as British athletes produced some superb performances at a rainy Norwich Union Glasgow Grand Prix at Scotstoun Stadium on Sunday.
Goldie Sayers and Phillips Idowu were impressive winners over strong international fields, whilst Craig Pickering and Nicola Sanders look to be carrying their excellent indoor form through to the summer season…
Women’s Long Jump
Pre-event favourite Tatyana Kotova won with a fifth round leap of 6.56m (-0.7m/s). The World Indoor Champion was 26cm down on her season’s best in what were difficult conditions for jumpers. Olympic heptathlon bronze medallist Kelly Sotherton was the leading British performer with her opening effort of 6.28m (-0.8m/s). “Not the best jumps I have ever done but in these conditions, what else can you do?” she said. “This is the last competition for about six weeks. I am going back to train hard and get some of the form back I had in the indoor season.” Former Commonwealth and European medallist Jade Johnson pulled out of the competition after the fourth round due to the weather. The 26 year-old suffered a knee injury at last year’s European Championships in Gothenburg due to slippery conditions underfoot and withdrew as a precaution. “I am in too good a shape to take any risks.” She said. Of the other British athletes, Amy Harris was 7th with 6.01m (-0.6m/s) and Gillian Cooke was 8th with 5.95m (-1.5m/s).
In a red-hot field, GB & NI’s Goldie Sayers proved her early season form is no flash in the pan as she won the competition with a fine second round effort of 63.59m, just less than one-and-a-half metres down on the British record she set at the Loughborough International a fortnight earlier. Last year’s European Champion and current Olympic silver medallist Steffi Nerius (Germany) was 2nd with a best of 62.57m and European silver medallist Barbara Spotakova (Czech Republic) was 3rd with 62.26m. “It wasn’t a bad day as we’ve trained in worse weather than this. My aim was to throw long and I’d expected to throw that far on a good day so I’m pretty pleased about it. I haven’s backed off training for Osaka so in theory I should have some more big throws.” A mouth watering prospect as the season unfolds.
Rodney Martin of the USA splashed his way to victory in 20.88 (0.2m/s). The leading Brit was former World Indoor Champion Marlon Devonish, who clocked 20.97 in third. “I can’t really gauge much from that. I do enjoy Glasgow, the crowd is always great, but it’s much more a position thing here, rather than times.” He said.
Jeanette Kwayke showed in the early stages, but faded to 5th in the final 20 metres as Stephanie Durst (USA) won in 11.43 (0.9m/s), with Kwayke seven-hundredths behind. “Yes the conditions aren’t great, but it was a good hard run.” Said the 24 year-old British sprinter. “As all the girls started coming through I just started to over rotate a bit. It is the start of the season so I am looking to build for later in the year.”
Kenyan record holder Faith Macharia took control of the race off the final bend to win in 2:39.26, with Olympic bronze medallist Jolanda Ceplak (Slovenia) second in 2:39.69. There was a great battle for third, with Jenny Meadows just getting the better of local runner Joanna Ross. Meadows clocked 2:39.84, with Ross just 0.05 adrift. Afterwards, Meadows said: “The conditions were not too bad today. The race was very tough and it was hard just being the first British runner home. I am very consistent now but I must take it to the next stage and break 1:58 for the 800m.”
Women’s 200m Paralympic
Scotland’s own Libby Clegg provided a bit of home cheer by winning in 26.80. With no major championships to aim for this summer, the 17 year-old will concentrate on securing selection for next year’s Paralympic Games in Beijing. “I’m quite pleased with that performance. There was a really good atmosphere out there today, despite the weather. It’s an honour to be asked to compete, I don’t often get the chance to run in big events like this.” She said.
Men’s High Jump
Olympic champion Stefan Holm showed his class in the inclement conditions by producing the leading clearance of 2.27m. There was disappointment for British trio Martyn Bernard, Germaine Mason and Samson Oni who all failed with three attempts at 2.20m, to finish with 2.15m as their best heights. Afterwards, Oni said: “These were obviously not championships conditions. I would have been happier to have jumped over 2.20 today, but the weather was always going to make that hard. I will go into three weeks of training now and am quite confident that I can get quality heights in Manchester.
In a physical contest, Spain’s Manuel Olmedo took advantage of some bumping and barging to cut through on the inside on the finishing straight to win in 1:49.60. 18 year-old James Brewer continues to catch the eye as he finished runner-up in 1:50.38. Last year’s fastest British runner Richard Hill tumbled out of the race at the 700m mark after being clipped from behind. Brewer said: “I gave as good as I got. A lot of the races I am in, the field tends to spread, so it was a good experience to be racing in a group. I went ahead at the bell because nobody else was making a move and I thought ‘I’m here to race.’ So I took it on. It was probably a mistake though, a few came past me on the back straight and I was left in a bad position.”
There was disappointment when European Indoor 60m gold medallist Jason Gardener was disqualified for false starting, a rare occurrence for the Bath Bullet. So it placed training partner Craig Pickering firmly in the spotlight, where the 20 year-old revelled, producing a searing run of 10.22 (+0.7m/s) to take the win from Mark Lewis-Francis who clocked 10.37. The time equalled Pickering’s PB, a remarkable feat given the testing conditions. The run now puts him in prime position for the 100m place in the Norwich Union GB & NI Team for this month’s European Cup in Munich. “That was seen by the rest of the lads as a run for a spot on the team for the European Cup. I’m just hoping to continue my good form that was in the indoors and start to take it outdoors.”
Women’s 400m hurdles
Tasha Danvers-Smith opened her season in satisfactory style, coming home second in 56.42 in a race won by Tiffany Williams in 55.64. Danvers-Smith said: “It is good to come out in an excellent field and see where I’m at – I think I’m in really good form and at the moment no-one is beating me, I’m beating myself. I still have to run consistently, but I feel good going into the outdoor season.” Of the other British athletes, Liz Fairs was 5th in 58.86, with Arwen Rees 7th in 59.95.
Men’s Triple Jump
European Indoor Championships gold and silver medallists Phillips Idowu and Nathan Douglas resumed their domestic rivalry, with the former just holding on for the win. Idowu bounded to a splendid opening effort of 17.14m (-0.1m/s) and settled for that mark after pulling out after the third round. In a bold final effort, Douglas almost snatched victory when he produced his best distance of 17.12m in the sixth and final round. The distances place the British athletes 5th and 7th respectively in this year’s world rankings. Idowu withdrew from the competition after slipping on the take off board and felling a jarring sensation in his back. He immediately sought assistance from the physio, who was pleased to report no damage. “It was very tidy.” He said of his winning jump. “I didn’t utilise my speed right through. I will go much further when the sun is shining bright and the wind is on my back.”
Gary Kikaya (Congo) and Xavier Carter (USA) fought out a thrilling battle on the home straight, with the former just prevailing by one hundredth of a second in 45.25. Andrew Steele was the leading Brit in 5th with 46.10, whilst a rusty Tim Benjamin opened his season in 6th with 46.19. Afterwards, Steele said: “It was okay. I didn’t run the race very well. I was too casual in the first 200m.”
Augustine Choge (Kenya), the fastest man in the world this year lived up to his reputation by winning in 3:36.92. Andy Baddeley was 3rd in a quality international field in 3:37.14 but was disappointed with his tactics. “I’m disappointed in that I felt I should have been closer to the leaders at the bell. If I am honest, I went to sleep from about 800m up to the bell. Sometimes you have to make it hurt and I didn’t make it hurt in the right places today.” He said. Baddeley’s next outing will come at the Dream Mile in Oslo on 15 June.
Commonwealth silver medallist Jo Pavey returned to track action after a successful recent foray onto the roads, including victory at the recent Great Manchester Run 10k. Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot wasn’t about to make her return an easy one and she broke clear around halfway, eventually winning in dominant style in 14:44.93. Pavey finished 5th in 15:12.34 after just losing out in a sprint finish with another Kenyan, Linet Masai, for 4th. “I’m disappointed. I was hoping to be a little more competitive. I just need a little bit of sharpening up. I think later in the season with all the higher mileage, I should see the benefits of my training.” She said.
The GB & NI A Team produced a fine display of relay running to comfortably take the win in 38.83. Ryan Scott gave the team a solid start before handing on to training partner Craig Pickering who in turn handed on to Marlon Devonish who handed the baton to his training partner Mark Lewis-Francis. There was also a notable result for the GB & NI B Team of Andy Turner, Chris Lambert, Tim Abeyie and Tyrone Edgar who held of USA for second in 39.28.
To close the show, European Indoor 400m gold medallist Nicola Sanders gave a teasing glimpse of the shape she is in, striding to a comfortable victory in 36.64. The time was over a second outside the Kathy Cook’s 22 year-old UK record, but given the conditions, a realistic attempt was never likely. “I’ve gone through 300m faster than that before, so I’m not overly excited, but it will do. I’m just looking forward to running 400m now.” She said. Her first race over the one lap distance has been earmarked for Oslo on 15 June.