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henry and rooney claim national records on the quayside

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Lynsey Sharp (coach: Rana Reider), Desiree Henry (Reider) and Martyn Rooney (Reider) were amongst a host of British athletes who impressed at the Great North CityGames, with many athletes closing their seasons on a stacked day of athletics at the Great North CityGames.

The women’s 500m, an all-British affair, saw Sharp dig in deep to pip the chasing pack to victory, the Scot coming home in 1:06.62, a world leading time over the distance, with British 800m champion Shelayna Oskan-Clarke (Jon Bigg) a close second in 1:06.89.

Speaking post-race, Sharp said: “I think I judged the race better than last time [referring to her run from 2014], I got caught out towards the end then, but I really wanted to win here. I really enjoyed the race, it was a great way to end my season.”

Behind Sharp and Oskan-Clarke were Anyika Onuora (Reider) and Adelle Tracey (Craig Winrow) in third and fourth respectively, with Laviai Nielsen (Frank Adams) in fifth ahead of the sixth-placed Seren Bundy-Davies (Stephan Ball).

Fresh from running at the final IAAF Diamond League meet of the season yesterday evening in Brussels, Desiree Henry (Rana Reider) capped off a fine year with victory in the 150m, clocking 16.57 to claim the British record over the lesser run distance. The gleaming 4x100m Olympic bronze medallist spoke afterwards: “I love these meetings’; the crowd are so kind and supportive so I feel like I owe it to them by putting in a good performance. To get the national record too is great - it’s been a fantastic year.”

In her second event of the day, Jodie Williams (Ryan Freckleton) posted a personal best time of 16.80 behind Henry to take third - the race coming just 45 minutes after the women’s 100m - with fellow Brit Margaret Adeoye (Linford Christie) coming home in 17.32 for fourth.

Post-race, Williams reflected on the CityGames and her season as a whole: “I haven’t trained since Rio, I raced once in Slovenia and I just used that to tick over, but I think I’m trying to kill myself with two events though! It’s feels like it’s been such a long season, but I’ve enjoyed every second of it and today was a nice way to finish.”

In the men’s event it was Danny Talbot (Benke Blomkvist) – surviving on just a couple of hours sleep having competed over 200m last night in Brussels – who finished strongly to take victory  in 15.06 ahead of Richard Kilty (Blomkvist), a second place finisher, and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (Blomkvist) in fourth.

Talbot spoke afterwards: “I haven’t really slept, and I think that’s helped me because I haven’t gone into shutdown yet. It’s nice to end the season racing my training partners, to get a win too is great; it’s been a good end to the season. I changed coach earlier this year and a lot of people saw that as a risk, but it’s paid off with my form, and hopefully it’ll set me up well for next year.”

In the men’s 500m, the great David Rudisha showed his class to break the tape in a scorching world leading 57.69, the two-time 800m Olympic champion stepping on the gas when the field reached the track. Chasing Rudisha all the way was Martyn Rooney, who came home in a national record time of 59.02 for third place, with Ireland’s Mark English taking second.

Two-time European champion Rooney gave his thoughts on the change in distance, saying: “Some people said I took it out hard but I felt quite relaxed, then I saw Rudisha sweep past me and I was in a world of pain. The 500m is definitely different, on a track at home you’ll practice and know every bit of the track and where you are, but in the first 100m I didn’t even know where I was or how to pace it.”

Four British athletes accompanied Rooney over the distance, with 400m hurdles specialists Sebastian Rodger (Stephen King) and Jack Green (June Plews) taking fourth and fifth respectively in their first competitive 500m races. Elliot Giles (Matt Yates) closed a fantastic breakthrough season in sixth, with Jacob Paul (Marina Armstrong) in eighth.

Recently crowned Diamond Race 1500m champion Laura Muir (Andy Young) finished her season in style with another victory over the mile distance in a British dominated field. The Scot, who revised her own British record over her favoured 1500m at Paris’s Diamond League meet just two weeks ago, showed signs of weary legs in the final 100m, but held off the attention of Alison Leonard (Bud Baldaro) to break the tape first.

A satisfied Muir commented afterwards: “I really wanted to win as it was the last race of my season – I kept a little bit in reserve in case anyone tried for one last push past me - so I’m very happy. I’m pleased with how the season has gone, with the times I’ve ran and the races I’ve won I have to be really.”

Fellow 1500m Olympic finalist Laura Weightman (Steve Cram) took fourth, whilst Eilish McColgan (Liz McColgan-Nuttall), a competitor over 5000m in Brussels yesterday evening, edged out European bronze medallist Steph Twell (Mick Woods) for fifth. In seventh was Sarah McDonald (Bud Baldaro), with Rosie Clarke (David Harmer), now regularly seen on the steeplechase circuit, taking ninth.

In the men’s mile event, it was Jake Wightman (Geoff Wightman) who rose above a high quality field, including Poland’s 800m specialist Marcin Lewandowski and Olympic 5000m finalist Andrew Butchart (Derek Easton) to claim the victory. Following his 4:05.70 winning time, Wightman said: “It’s quite a shock to win; it’s the end of the season so I thought I’d give it a good go. I’m glad to go out on a high for the year.”

Coming in behind Wightman were a host of British middle distance experts, with Tom Lancashire (Steve Vernon), Adam Clarke (Geoff Watkin) and Charlie Grice claiming fourth, fifth and sixth. Butchart took eighth, with the seventh place Bernard Lagat receiving a fantastic ovation post-race following the American’s track retirement in Rio, whilst Robbie Fitzgibbon (Jon Bigg) finished ninth ahead of Michael Rimmer (Bigg).

Competing for the first time since his bronze winning jump in Rio, World, European and Commonwealth champion Greg Rutherford (Dan Pfaff) responded to the fantastic reception from the crowd to leap to a first round best of 7.66m to take victory.

On his return to the runway for a final time this season, Rutherford said: “More people seem to be interested in Strictly [Come Dancing]! Hopefully there will be more of a crossover and people can take an interest in field athletics.”

British champion Daniel Gardiner (John Crotty) came in third behind Rutherford and Emiliano Lisa of Uruguay with a round one best of 7.60m.

It was a British photo finish in the men’s 100m, with James Dasaolu (Steve Fudge) edging out Chijindu Ujah (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) for the win. Speaking afterwards, British champion Dasaolu commented: “The crowd here is amazing; we just try to put a show on for them. We [himself and Ujah] both got a fair start, it was neck and neck all the way but it was my lucky day today, I managed to just out-dip CJ on the line.”

There was another victory for David Omoregie (Benke Blomkvist) in the 110m hurdles, the 20-year-old having posted a lifetime best of 13.24 last weekend in Berlin to become the sixth fastest British hurdler of all time. In front of a vocal crowd on the Quayside, Omoregie finished strongly to clock 13.75 ahead of the USA’s Jarrod Eaton and British compatriot David King (James Hillier), the latter a third place finisher in 13.94.

Tiffany Porter was denied victory for the third year running at the CityGames, with the USA’s Jackie Coward edging the European bronze medallist out 12.85 to 12.97 in the 100m hurdles, whilst it wasn’t to be for British champion Holly Bradshaw in the pole vault, as the Olympic finalist exited the competition following three no marks at 4.45m, with victory going to Regine Kramer of Germany.

Full results of the Great North City Games can be found here:


The Great North Run will be live on BBC One on Sunday 11 September from 09:30 until 13:30.