13th July 2021


The Müller British Grand Prix played host to some very impressive performances as a number of athletes bound for Tokyo fine-tuned their preparations at the final Wanda Diamond League event before the Olympics.

Much of the attention of the crowd on what was beautiful evening in Gateshead fell on heptathlon world champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson (coach: Bertrand Valcin, club: Liverpool), who is continuing her return from a serious Achilles injury.

The 28-year-old who had leapt 1.84m in a low-key high jump competition earlier this month was competing in the long jump on home turf and produced a best leap of 6.10m to finish eighth in a competition won by Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk with a final-three leap of 6.67m.

Johnson-Thompson, who will compete once more before Tokyo, was more than happy with her evening’s work.

“That proves that I’m 100 per cent fit,” she said. “I only got one no-jump. It’s proved I’ve made big strides and that I can come out and do the full five jumps off my full approach and hopefully over the coming weeks I can work on my technique a bit more and the distance will come in Tokyo I’m sure.”

British champion Jazmin Sawyers (Lance Brauman, City of Stoke) narrowly missed out on a spot in the final three with a third-round jump of 6.62m, with Abigail Irozuru (Aston Moore, Sale) right behind her with 6.60m.

The evening’s final event proved to be one of the highlights as Andrew Butchart (Barry Fudge, Central) broke his own Scottish 3000m record by clocking 7:35.18 as he finished third in a race which was won by Mohamed Katir’s Spanish record of 7:27.64, the second-fastest time in the world this year.

Patrick Dever (Andy Bibby, Preston) continued his fine year with sixth place in a PB of 7:37.39, while Tom Mortimer (Christopher Brown, Stroud) broke Steve Ovett’s 44-year-old British U23 record with his run of 7:38.73 in ninth.

There were also PBs for Sam Atkin (Mike Collins, Lincoln Wellington) and Jack Rowe (Aldershot, Farnham and District) of 7:39.71 and 7:42.15 respectively as they came home in tenth and 12th places.

The Emsley Carr Mile came right down to the wire as British 800m champion Elliot Giles (Jon Bigg, Birchfield) just edged the win with a personal best time of 3:52.49 from Jake Heyward (Mark Rowland, Cardiff), who also clocked a PB and broke the Welsh record in second with 3:52.50. Archie Davis (Joel Kidger, Brighton) also ran his fastest ever time for the distance as he took third in 3:54.27, while 2017 Emsley Carr Mile winner Jake Wightman (Geoff Wightman, Edinburgh) clocked 3:55.78 in fourth.

Wightman and Giles had been locked together when they reached the bell in 2:54 but a kick from the British 800m indoor record-holder off the final bend sent him into the lead before he just managed to hold off the strong finish of Heyward.

Giles joined Seb Coe, Steve Cram and Peter Elliot as the only British men to have broken 1:44 for 800m, 3:34 for 1500m and 3:54 for the mile.

“It was great and really comfy actually,” said Giles. “It felt much better than I thought it would and I didn’t have to go too deep.
“I didn’t realise Jake was closing on me so much and then I saw he was coming up behind me so that was a really rookie error on my behalf, but luckily I managed to push through and grab that win.

“There’s such an impressive group and depth of GB talent it always pushes me and it’s amazing to see.”

Jamie Webb (Matt Yates, Liverpool Harriers) clocked 1:45.97 to finish seventh in a men’s 800m race which was won by American Isaiah Harris in 1:44.76. Daniel Rowden (Matt Yates, Woodford Green Essex Ladies) was a late withdrawal from the race.

In the women’s Millicent Fawcett Mile Katie Snowden (Daniel Stepney, Herne Hill) produced a strong finish to clock 4:28.04 and take second place behind the world-leading time of 4:27.20 set by American winner Kate Grace.

Jess Judd (Mick Judd, Blackburn) was the next Briton him in eighth with a time of 4:31.18, while Revee Walcott-Nolan was 10th in 4:32.30 and European U23 1500m medallist Erin Wallace 12th with a PB of 4:35.37.

Jodie Williams (Ryan Freckleton, Herts Phoenix) has been on brilliant form this year and the woman who won the British 200m and 400m titles last month impressed as she doubled up in those events again in Gateshead.

Over the shorter race, she clocked a season’s best of 22.60 (0.2), her fastest time since 2014, to come second to Jamaican Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah in 22.43.

Beth Dobbin (Leon Baptiste, Edinburgh) was fifth in 22.92, while there was a personal best of 23.06 for Daryll Neita (Rana Reider, Cambridge) as she came home in seventh.

When it came to the 400m, Williams produced a PB of 50.94 to come second behind Jamaican Stephenie Ann McPherson’s 50.44 and ahead of the 51.54 run by Dutch athlete Lieke Klaver. Nicole Yeargin (Pitreavie) was fifth in 51.77 and Ama Pipi (Linford Christie, Enifield & Haringey) seventh in 52.50.

“Tonight has been great,” said Williams. “This year I’ve really just been trying to put myself in uncomfortable positions. I’ve tried to double up wherever I can and really push myself because I know when I’m standing on a final start line at the Olympic Games it’s going to be uncomfortable.

“I’m seeing the results really paying off, coming out here and competing in world class fields and coming in top positions. I’m really happy with how things are turning out.

“It’s rare that I say that I’m proud of myself honestly, but this year has been a massive turning point for me.”

In the women’s 400m B race, Emily Diamond (Benke Blomkvist, Bristol and West) was just outside her season’s best when she clocked 51.89 to win the women’s 400m B race ahead of the 52.13 from Zoey Clark (Thames Valley, Eddie McKenna) and 52.98 of Hannah Williams (Glyn Hawkes, Herts Phoenix).

In the all-British men’s 400m event, national champion Nicklas Baker (Piotr Spas, Crawley) clocked 46.24 to win from Joseph Brier (Matt Elias, Swansea) in 46.34, while Lee Thompson (John Henson, Sheffield & Dearne) was third in 46.46. A lot of the attention, however, went to the seventh-placed Martyn Rooney (Nick Dakin, Croydon), who ran 47.74 and announced it was the last top-level race of a long career which has featured multiple international honours.

CJ Ujah (Ryan Freckleton, Enfield & Haringey) produced a strong performance to finish second in the men’s 100m behind Olympic favourite Trayvon Bromell. The British champion clocked 10.10 (0.4) as he pushed the American champion, who won in 9.98.

Zharnel Hughes (Glen Mills, Shaftesbury Barnet) celebrated his 26th birthday by finishing third after a photo finish, his time of 10.13 also being awarded to Canadian André de Grasse and American Fred Kerley. British 200m champion Adam Gemili (Rana Reider, Blackheath & Bromley) was eighth in 10.21.

Earlier, European silver medallist Reece Prescod (Mike Holloway, Enfield & Haringey) clocked a season’s best of 10.13 (0.7) to win the men’s 100m B race ahead of American Josephus Lyles’ 10.29. The fast-finishing Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Lance Brauman, Newham & Essex Beagles) ran 10.31 to pip Andrew Robertson (Sale) for third by 0.02 of a second.

The British men’s 4x100m men’s relay team of CJ Ujah, Zharnel Hughes, Richard Kilty (Michael Afilaka, Gateshead) and Nethaneel Mitchell-blake set the fastest time in the world this year as they fine-tuned their Olympic preparations with a run of 38.27 which just held off the late charge of Canada (38.29) and the Netherlands’ 38.49.

The British women’s 4x100m relay quartet of Asha Philip (Steve Fudge, Newham & Essex Beagles), Imani Lara Lansiquot (Sutton & District, Steve Fudge), Beth Dobbin and Daryll Neita combined to produce a season’s best of 42.92 as they finished second behind the Netherlands’ winning time of 42.84.

There was a fine 100m hurdles win for Cindy Sember (Woodford Green Essex Ladies) in a time of 12.69 (1.5), holding off American Payton Chadwick (12.75) and a season’s best of 12.78 from Nadine Visser of the Netherlands. Alicia Barrett (Benke Blomkvist) did not finish.

In the men’s 110m hurdles Andrew Pozzi (Santiago Antunez, Straford-Upon-Avon) clocked 13.45 (0.8) for third place in a race won by Jamaican national champion Ronald Levy in 13.22 from his fellow countryman and Olympic champion Omar McLeod (13.42).

British champion Tade Ojora (Caryl Smith-Gilbert, Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) was sixth in 13.87.

There was a personal best of 54.69 for Jessie Knight (Marina Armtrong, Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) as she finished fourth in the women’s 400m hurdles race which was won convincingly by Dutch star Femke Bol in 53.24. Meghan Beesley (Benke Blomkvist, Birchfield) was seventh in 57.04.

In the field events British pole vault record-holder Holly Bradshaw (Scott Simpson, Blackburn) was involved in a tight battle with Olympic and world silver medallist Sandi Morris. The American won out with a best clearance of 4.76m compared to Bradshaw’s 4.71m but both attempted to clear 4.81m, though it was not to be on the night.

Molly Caudery (Stuart Caudery, Thames Valley) was fifth with a season’s best clearance of 4.51m.

The first Diamond League event of the evening was the men’s triple jump and British champion Ben Williams (Aston Moore, City of Stoke) leapt 16.22m to finish. His fellow Briton Efe Uwaifo (John Herbert, Harrow) jumped a best of 15.91m for eighth in a competition which was won by Portuguese Pedro Pichardo in 17.50m.

Chris Baker (Graham Ravenscroft, Sale) and Joel Khan (Deirdre Elmhirst, Worcester) finished joint sixth in the high jump after both cleared 2.14m at the first time of asking but were unable to go over 2.18m. The competition was won by Donald Thomas of the Bahamas on countback from Italian Marco Fassinotti, with both clearing 2.25m.

Thomas Young (Joseph McDonell, Loughborough) was the first winner of the evening, coming home first in the all-British men’s mixed classification Para 100m in a time of 11.19 (0.4). Zac Shaw (Leon Baptiste, Cleethorpes) was second in 11.25, while Ola Abidogun (Grant Barker, Horwich) equalled his season’s best with 11.31 for third.

In the all-British women’s mixed classification Para 100m, Sophie Hahn (Leon Baptiste, Charnwood) blasted her way to victory in 12.70 (0.2) ahead of 13.24 from Olivia Breen (Aston Moore, City of Portsmouth) and the 13.37 run of Ali Smith (Benke Blomkvist, Guildford & Godalming).

Columba Blango (Chris Zah, Shaftesbury Barnet) was a convincing winner of the mixed classification men’s Para 400m race, clocking 48.43 to come home ahead of the 51.09 run by Ethan Kirby (Newton Abbott, Nick Harris) and 51.79 from John Bridge (Darrell Maynard, Cardiff).

Full results are available here.