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Rutherford Mo
11 September 2015

Recently crowned world champions Mo Farah (coach: Alberto Salazar) and Greg Rutherford (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) will be two of the standout names competing across the weekend in the North East as they look to round off their seasons in style in front of a home crowd at the Great North Run and Great North City Games respectively.

Farah, fresh from retaining his world 5000m and 10,000m titles in Beijing, will step back up to the half marathon distance and look to repeat his success from 2014 when he crossed the finish line in 2014 ahead of Kenya’s Mike Kigen.

Farah commented on finishing his season at the Great North Run: “It’s a really good way to end the season here in the North East and it’s always a good atmosphere here. I’m just going to enjoy the moment and give it one last push on Sunday.

On victory in 2014: “It was great to win it last year and obviously it would be nice to do that again. Mike Kigen is a great athlete and I’m sure he’ll push me again.”

Other than Kigen, Farah will likely face competition from Stanley Biwott who has a career best half marathon time of 58:56. Stephen Sambu, the Great Manchester Run winner earlier this year and South Africa’s Stephen Mokoka could also be in the mix, domestic competition will come from the likes of 2010 European 10,000m silver medallist Chris Thompson (Mark Rowland), Jonny Mellor (Steve Vernon), Callum Hawkins (Robert Hawkins) and Jonny Hay (Mick Woods).

The women’s race will be a fascinating affair with last year’s winner Mary Keitany returning to defend her title. The Kenyan will take on Britain’s Gemma Steel (John Nuttall) who enjoyed one of the races of her life at last year’s event, claiming second place and a half marathon PB of 68:13.

Others to watch out for in the women’s race include 2012 Olympic marathon silver medallist Priscah Jeptoo and this year’s world 10,000m silver medallist Gelete Burka who will be a threat to the women’s title. Local athlete Aly Dixon will use the race as preparation for the Berlin Marathon next month, and will receive a warm reception from the home crowd.

David Weir (Jenny Archer), who last won the Great North Run wheelchair race in 2013, will again take to the streets and will face a tough battle with last year’s winner Jordi Jiminez of Spain. Last year’s ladies champion Shelly Woods (Archer) will again start as favourite with America’s Amanda McGrory being a likely outside challenger.

Rutherford added another victory to his collection today as he took to the St James’s Park pitch to take on Farah in a penalty shootout with legendary Newcastle United forward Peter Beardsley in goal. The Manchester United fan won 4-3 over the double Olympic champion and will be hoping for further success on Saturday when he competes in the long jump at the Great North City Games.

Rutherford, who now holds the grand slam of titles, the Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth titles simultaneously, is unsurprisingly happy with his current form and is excited for the homecoming by the quayside tomorrow afternoon as he takes on fellow world medallist Fabrice Lapierre.

“I enjoy these events and it is a great way to showcase the sport. I think when you are having a good time, you jump really well too and the crowds really get a feeling of how the long jump works”, said the 28 year old.

After adding the Diamond Race trophy to his ever-growing collection last week, Rutherford is not getting complacent and is looking forward to working with Dan Pfaff early next year as he targets a defence of his Olympic title.

“Hopefully I can come out next year and establish myself as one of the best ever (long jumpers). I’m consistently around the 8.30m mark but I want to be consistent around the 8.40-50m mark going forward.”

On the aftermath of winning the world title, he said: “It still hasn’t sunk in yet. I set out this year to win the World Championships and the Diamond League. It was great to jump so well in Beijing, an 8.41m is not to be sniffed at, the second longest jump of my career. It’s been a very special year, the most consistent by a long way.”

The City Games will also see the return to action for Jo Pavey (Gavin Pavey), who will compete in the women’s two mile event on Saturday against Mercy Cherono, a winner at the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games in July. Pavey also receives the honour of starting the Great North Run on Sunday alongside World 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop. She was delighted to be asked to start the iconic race in Newcastle and was looking forward to high-fiving the thousands of runners taking on the 13.1 mile route.

“It’s such an honour to be asked to start this race alongside Asbel (Kiprop). I’ve competed in the race (Great North Run) a couple of times and I have really great memories. The atmosphere is brilliant and the people all come out and support all the athletes so well.

“I’m racing in the two miles and it is almost going to have that first race feel, so it may be a shock to the system but I’m excited to get out here and start racing again after missing the track season.”

The Great North City Games will see a plethora of international and British stars taking on a variety of events in front of thousands of people flocking to the streets of Newcastle and Gateshead. A couple of highlights will see Dafne Schippers, the newly crowned world 200m champion from Beijing take on the 100m while  world 400m champion Allyson Felix steps down to the 150m and Kiprop in the men’s mile.

Jonnie Peacock (Steve Fudge) and American Richard Browne will once again do battle in the highly anticipated T44 100m which will be the last time they face one another before the IPC World Championships next month. Holly Bradshaw (Scott Simpson) will feature in the women’s pole vault alongside Cuban world champion Yarisley Silva, whilst breakthrough Brit Rabah Yousif (Carol Williams) moves up to a fascinating 500m alongside Commonwealth 800m champion Nijel Amos. Tiffany Porter (Rana Reider) goes in the 100m hurdles whilst Chijindu Ujah (Tawiah-Dodoo) lines up alongside fellow Brit James Dasaolu (Fudge) in the 100m on the quayside.

Full start lists for the Great North City Games can be found here: https://grimages.blob.core.windows.net/blobcitygames/documents/2015-09-04-GreatNorthCityGames2015_StartListV1.pdf

Elite fields for the Great North Run can be found here: http://www.greatrun.org/great-north-run

The Great North City Games will be broadcast on BBC One from 14:00 till 16:00 on Saturday 12 September whilst the Great North Run will be on BBC One from 9:30 till 13:30 on Sunday 13 September.