23rd May 2021


The weather was wet and windy but Britain’s leading women rose to the occasion as Dina Asher-Smith (club: Blackheath & Bromley; coach John Blackie) and Laura Muir (Dundee Hawkhill, Andy Young) grabbed the headlines with victories in the 100m and 1500m respectively at the Müller Grand Prix Gateshead.

Asher-Smith had insisted in the pre-event press conference that she was stronger than ever, and she showed all of her hard work in training is already paying off after storming to victory in a star-studded women’s 100m.

In front of a home crowd of 2000 at the opening Diamond League meeting of the schedule, the 200m world champion and 100m world silver medallist laid down a marker for the season ahead by clocking 11.35 into a stiff headwind of -3.1 m/s as she saw off American world leader Sha’Carri Richardson (11.44), world bronze medallist Marie-Josée Talou (11.48) and world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (11.51).

“I was really happy to start my 100m season with a win in what were far from ideal conditions,” said Asher-Smith. “When you come to a Diamond League the most important thing to do is to run a good race and keep a cool head. It’s really good practice for staying focused and staying in the moment.

“The only way to get race fit is to race against the best in the world. It’s the only way to know what to work on relative to the best women in the world so these are the kind of races you want to be in. I’ll definitely be looking to get a few more races in before the Olympic trials.”

In the qualifying heats, Desiree Henry (Engfield & Haringey, Mike McFarlane) had been sixth in 11.95 (-4.2 m/s), while Imani Lansiquot (Steve Fudge, Sutton & District) clocked 11.92 fourth in the second heat.

In the women’s 1500m event which brought the opening Diamond League meeting of the season to a close, Muir used her trademark fast finish to land a dominant win in 4:03.73, coming home four seconds ahead of Morocco’s Rababe Arafi.

Katie Snowden (Herne Hill, Daniel Stepney) also continued her excellent form by finishing third in 4:08.92, while Eilish McColgan (Dundee Hawkhill, Liz McColgan) was sixth with a time of 4:10.48 and Adelle Tracey (Guildford & Godalming, Craig Winrow) eighth in a season’s best of 4:10.93.

The long-standing stadium record of 4:00.57 did not come under threat due to the less than helpful weather but, as Muir pointed out: “Today wasn’t about times, it was about getting out there and getting a win in front of a home crowd.

“I’m really, really pleased, I just wanted to sit in and use my strength over the last half, which I did. I’ll have to watch the race back, but it went really well. I did feel it in the home straight and it was a shame it was that last 100m as well when you are tiring, but I still felt really strong.”

Cindy Sember (Woodford Green Essex Ladies) was also victorious as she clocked 13.28 (-3.9) to win the women’s 100m hurdles ahead of Hungarian Luka Kozák’s 13.37. Tiffany Porter (Woodford Green Essex Ladies, Jeff Porter) was fourth in 13.50.

“I am very pleased with that race,” said European indoor 60m hurdle silver medallist Sember, who will race once more before turning her attention to the Muller British Athletics Championships which host the trials next month.

“To keep it together in those conditions was pleasing. Wow, that negative 3.9 wind, I don’t think I have ever run in that much wind so to keep it together and execute the race well it really could have been a lot worse.”

In the women’s 400m hurdles, Jessica Turner (Amber Valley & Erewash, Nick Dakin) also impressed in the tough conditions after coming second in 56.56 behind Denmark’s Sara Slott Petersen (56.32) and ahead of Jamaican Janieve Russell (57.16).

Hayley McLean (Shaftesbury Barnet, Chris Zah) was fifth in 58.02 and Nicole Kendall (Thames Valley, Marina Armstrong) seventh in 59.34.

In the women’s 400m, a late entrant this morning, Hannah Williams (Herts Phoenix, Glyn Hawkes) was fifth with a time of 53.35 in a women’s 400m contest that won by American Kendall Ellis in 51.86. Laviai Nielsen (Enfield & Haringey, Christine Harrison-Bloomfield) ran a season’s best 53.96 for eighth.

“There have been a few injuries I’ve been fighting on the track this year so it’s nice to be on the track and healthy, competing in front of a home crowd,” said Gemili.  On the men’s side, Adam Gemili (Blackheath & Bromley) opened his 2021 campaign with 21.18 (-3.0) for sixth place over 200m. The world championships fourth placer has been coming back from a foot injury and saw training partner, American Kenny Bednarek, come home first in 20.33. Tommy Ramdhan (Bexley, Michael Afilaka) was eighth in 21.61.

There were three British athletes in the men’s 1500m, which was won by European indoor and outdoor champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen’s (NOR) season-opening 3:36.27. Archie Davis (Brighton Phoenix, Joel Kidger) was the first of the trio home as he clocked a season’s best 3:41.66, just ahead of British champion George Mills’ (Brighton Phoenix, Jon Bigg) 3:42.70, while there was also a season’s best for Thomas Keen (Cambridge & Coleridge, Mark Vile) in 10th as he ran 3:45.97.

Andrew Butchart (Central) was the highest placed Briton in the men’s 5000m by coming sixth in a time of 13:23.73. In 13th Jack Rowe (Aldershot, Farnham and District) clocked a PB of 13:35.77, while right behind him Jake Smith (Cardiff, James Thie) , who clocked 13:38.01, has also never run quicker for the distance. Jonathan Davies (Reading AC, Luke Gunn) was a further two places back in 14:17.75 in the race won by Spain’s Mohamed Katir, who ran a PB of 13:08.52.

Mark Pearce (Shaftesbury Barnet, Luke Gunn) had the race of his life as he clocked a PB of 8:32.65 to finish fourth in the men’s 3000m steeplechase, which was won by American Hillary Bor in 8:30.20. Phil Norman (Woodford Green Essex Ladies, Tomaz Pilbersek), who had run a PB of 8:20.12 in Ostrava in midweek, was eighth in 8:35.31 while Zak Seddon (Bracknell AC) took 12th in 8:38.39.

In the field events, Emily Borthwick (Wigan & District, Fuzz Caan) was awarded with the performance of the day as she leapt to an equal personal best clearance of 1.91m when finishing second in the women’s high jump to Poland’s Kamila Licwinko, who only took first place on countback. Borthwick went over at the third time of asking and came very close to clearing 1.94m.

Morgan Lake (Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow, Fuzz Caan) was third in 1.88m, with Nikki Manson (Giffnock North) sixth thanks to a season’s best 1.84m, while Bethan Partridge (Birchfield, Graham Ravenscroft) also recorded a season’s best of 1.80m in finishing 10th.

Given the presence of world champion Sam Kendricks (USA) and world record-holder Mondo Duplantis (SWE), there was plenty of attention on the men’s pole vault and British record-holder Harry Coppell (Wigan & District, Scott Simpson) produced a season’s best 5.45m to finish third. Kendricks won thanks to his second-time clearance of 5.74m, while Charlie Myers (Birtley, Chris Boundy) was forced to retire after two attempts at clearing 5.30m.

An opening leap of 7.72m gave Reynold Banigo (Sale Harriers, Lukasz Zawila) seventh in a men’s long jump competition which was won by Italian Filippo Randazzo with 8.11m. Alex Farquharson (West Dunbartonshire) was ninth in 7.61m.

In the men’s javelin, Harry Hughes (Newham & Essex Beagles) opened with 71.23m before retiring after two no throws. Poland’s Marcin Krukowski won with his fourth-round effort of 82.61m, which was also a season’s best.

There was season’s best, too, for Naomi Ogbeta (Trafford, Tom Cullen) as she took third place in the triple jump. The British champion had leapt out to 14.29m in the second round to ensure her place in the top three and the opportunity to tackle the decisive sixth jump. Jamaica’s Shaneika Richards won that with 14.29m, while Portuguese Patricia Mamona leaping 13.62m and Ogbeta 13.32m.

Sophie McKinna (Great Yarmouth, Mike Winch) produced a season’s best of 18.36m to take fourth in the women’s shot put. Her fellow Briton Amelia Strickler (Thames Valley, Zane Duquemin) was seventh following her second-round throw of 17.90m, an outdoor PB. Portuguese Auriol Dongmo took overall victory in a season’s best 19.08m.

The evening’s action got up and running with a series of para athletics mixed classification sprints races, which provided some important competition opportunities ahead of next month’s WPA European Championships.

Sophie Hahn (Charnwood, Leon Baptiste) (T38) won the all-British women’s 100m in 13.31 (-3.1), with Esme O’Connell (Dacorum & Tring, Jack Awe) (T20) following in 13.82, Faye Olszowka (Bexlye, Christopher Harris, T20) in 13.96, Sophie Kamlish (Team Bath, Robert Ellchuk, T64) in 14.09, Hetty Bartlett (City of Norwich, Denis Costello, T38) clocking 14.35, Kirsty Taylor (DSW Para Academy, Joseph McDonnell, T44) producing 14.58 and Maria Lyle (Team East Lothian, Jamie Bowie, T35) 14.84.

The men’s para mixed classification 100m was won by Thomas Young (Charnwood, Joseph McDonnell T38) in 11.71 (-4.0 m/s), with Zac Shaw (Cleethorpes, Leon Baptiste, T12) clocking 11.82, Ola Abidogun (Horwich, Grant Barker, T47) 11.87, Emmanuel Oynibo-Coker (Newham & Essex Beagles, Coral Nourrice T47) 12.34, James Arnott (City of Plymouth, Ryan Freckleton T46) 12.37, Rhys Jones (DSW Para Academy, Kevin Williams, T37) 12.74 and James Ledger (DSW Para Academy, Matt Elias T12) 13.09.

In the women’s 200m event Ali Smith (Guildford & Godalming, Benke Blomkvist, T38) clocked 28.86 (-3.5 m/s) to finish first, with Libby Clegg (Charnwood, Joseph McDonnell, T11) second in 30.07, Victoria Baskett (Sheffield Uni, Katie Jones T44) was next across the line in third 30.28 and Bebe Jackson (Harlow, Michell Dawson, T44) fourth in 32.05.

Ahead of his GB & NI debut in Bydgoszcz next week, Columba Blango (Shaftesbury Barnet, Chris Zah, T20) took the 200m honours in 23.19 (-2.5). WPA Junior Champs medallist Ethan Kirby (Newton Abbott, Nick Harris, T20) was second in 24.00, while Shaun Burrows (Charnwood, Joseph McDonnell, T38) third in 24.37, John Bridge (Cardiff, Darrell Maynard, T47) next in 24.39, Ross Paterson (Red Star, John Kinder, T38) fourth in 24.84.

Alexander Thomson (Victoria Park City of Glasgow, Chris Baillie, T38) followed in 25.09 and Richard Whitehead (Southwell, Keith Antoine, T61) 25.73 in his first race in 18 months.

Results: https://gateshead.diamondleague.com/list-results/