26th August 2012

Grand Homecoming For Britain’s Olympic Heroes

26 August 2012

The Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix today provided a fitting homecoming for four of GB’s Olympic medallists and 17 Olympic champions from across the globe, as the annual track and field spectacular returned to the Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium once more.

A total of 45 medallists from the recent London Olympic Games turned out to compete at the UK’s second and final Diamond League meeting of the 2012 season, and two of Britain’s newly-crowned Olympic champions duly delivered again.

Double Olympic champion Mo Farah (Alberto Salazar) scorched to his first victory since claiming the 5,000m and 10,000m titles in the British capital and celebrated the recent birth of his twin daughters, in winning the two-mile event to close his Olympic season in style.

The 29-year-old clocked 8:27.24 to defend his 2011 win here and give the 13,000-strong home crowd plenty to cheer for.

Based in Oregon in the USA, Farah revealed: “I love competing on British soil, it’s what it is all about, getting the support from everyone and I just appreciate everyone being with me all the way.”

“It hasn’t been the easiest week because my wife gave birth to two little girls, so it hasn’t been easy coming here and getting this out the way. But it is what I do every day. I’m looking forward to getting back to London now.”

“I’ve got one more race, I’m going to do a half marathon and then that’s it. I’m really looking forward to the World Championships, it’s going to be great.”

Meanwhile, looking a different athlete to the man who finished a lowly 25th in the Olympic 10,000m final, Chris Thompson (John Nuttall) finished a credible seventh in a personal best of 8:30.19.

The 31-year-old 2010 European 10,000m silver-medallist has endured yet another season plagued by injury but re-gouped well after his Olympic disappointment and will take new confidence going into the winter season.

Olympic 5,000m representative, Nick McCormick (Lindsey Dunn) placed ninth in 8:35.24 whilst English 3,000m steeplechase champion Jonathan Taylor (Gordon Surtees) finished 10th in 8:51.99.

Olympic 1500m semi-finallist Ross Murray (Craig Winrow) failed to finish his two-mile debut in a frustrating sight for the 21-year-old in his breakthrough season. 

Fresh from leaping to Olympic bronze and his national record-equaling display in the Lausanne Diamond League on Thursday with a 2.37m clearance, Robbie Grabarz (Fayyaz Ahmed) took victory in his home training ground and beat Olympic champion Ivan Ukhaov of Russia in the process.

The 24-year-old European champion was the only athlete to clear 2.32m on his first attempt and tried to move clear of Steve Smith’s 20-year-old British mark with 2.38m but to no avail. 

“It’s been fantastic. I just came here to win, I did my jump and I got to try a British record again. The higher you jump the more fun it is,” Grabarz explained.

“The crowd has been fantastic, they have been really good, I loved it!”

Perri Shakes-Drayton (Chris Zah) had a strong point to prove after missing the Olympic final by just one place and duly claimed second place in the 400m hurdles to defeat Olympic champion Natalya Antyukh (UKR) and Olympic bronze-medallist Zuzana Hejnova (CZE) in the process.

Clocking 54.08, the 23-year-old – who also helped the British squad to fifth position in the 4x400m relay in London – took victory in the Aviva London Grand Prix last month, where she recorded a scintillating 53.77 personal best to jump to second on the national all-time list.

“The fact that I’ve shown consistency, on Thursday I ran my second fastest time ever and I’ve beaten a few girls that were in the final at the Olympics,” Shakes-Drayton revealed.

“Unfortunately I wasn’t there in the final due to my hamstring which played up for a long time. It wasn’t anything too serious but after my semi-final I did the relay and ran a fast leg there so I knew I was in good form.”

“I had to put that disappointment behind me because I knew I had a few more races to do and my aim was to end the season on a high. So far it’s going that way.”

Olympic semi-finalist Eilidh Child (Malcolm Arnold) finished fifth in 55.98, which was a full second slower than the Scot’s 2012 best.

Three weeks after collecting the Olympic silver medal Christine Ohuruogu (Lloyd Cowan) enjoyed thr crowd as she finished second to Jamaica’s Rosemary Whyte in a 50.67 clocking to Whyte’s 50.20 season’s best.

“It was great out there today. It’s always great to come back home and run in Britain, I think the Olympics showed that,” the winner explained.

“The British crowd are pretty spectacular and they help to lift any event. I was really proud to be able to come here and compete.”

Meanwhile, Nicola Sanders (Tony Lester) finished seventh in 52.62 and Shana Cox (Lloyd Cowan) placed eighth with 52.92.

Unable to replicate his Olympic winning ways, Greg Rutherford (Dan Pfaff) leapt 7.88m to finish third in the long jump.

The 25-year-old joint British record-holder enjoyed only two legal jumps after bypassing rounds three to five to receive physiotherapy treatment to his groin then returned in the sixth but fouled his final attempt.

“I haven’t stopped since the Olympics at all, there’s no respite,” Rutherford revealed.

“Since the Olympics I’ve been so busy, it’s been unbelievable. I’ve pretty much been living in London, I’ve hardly been home at all. But it’s been wonderful, it has really been such a nice experience. I went out onto the pitch at Old Trafford last night, I’m a big United fan so for me that was really special.”

Following a knee operation in the autumn, Chris Tomlinson (Frank Attoh) improved from sixth place in London to fourth with 7.78m – the same distance as JJ Jegede (Peter Stanley) soared to in finish in fifth.

Both finished clear of Olympic silver-medallist Mitchell Watt of Australia and America’s bronze-medallist Will Claye.  

Olympic finalist Laura Weightman (Steve Cram) finished a fine runner-up in a tactical 1500m from Anna Pierce with a 4:11.79 clocking to the American’s 4:11.33 winning time. 

The 21-year-old UK champion, who clocked an impressive 4:02.99 personal best in the Olympic semi-final, has enjoyed a breakthrough 2012 campaign and pushed Hannah England into fourth position.

“It was brilliant out there. I really wanted to try and push on during the race and give it a good go,” Weightman explained.

“I just got caught in the last 50m but I’m pleased with the race and I felt like I ran a good race and tried to take it on.”

“I’ve got one more race in Zurich in a few days and I’m really looking forward to that. This will set me up well, with a bit of change of pace mid-race because I know that it’s going to be fast so I’m really looking forward to that and I’m really pleased with how today went.”

World silver-medallist, England (Bud Baldaro) has endured a torrid injury-ravaged summer but managed to recently record a 1:59.66 800m personal best and looked almost back to full strength here on home turf with 4:11.95, just outside of the top three.

“I’m feeling good, disappointed in the last 50m but I was obviously in a bit of a weird positioning in the front, which I don’t normally do, but it was good experience,” revealed Brimingham-based England.

“I’m still having to manage my injury and I’m still in pain every day, but the doctors have told me that’s okay and I can deal with it.”

UK indoor champion Marilyn Okoro (Ayo Falola) made amends for missing Olympic selection by finishing a fine third in the 800m with a 2:01.96 clocking behind Olympic champion Mariya Savinova of Russia and Beijing 2008 Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo of Kenya.

The 27-year-old won the much-anticipated battle of the Brits from Olympic semi-finalist Lynsey Sharp (David Sunderland), who placed fifth in 2:02.28.

Edinburgh’s Sharp, the European championships runner-up, finished two places ahead of UK silver-medallist Jemma Simpson (Mark Rowland) with 2:03.33 and 17-year-old world junior runner-up Jessica Judd (Jeremy Freeman), who placed eighth out of nine finishers with a 2:03.39 clocking.  

British record-holder Lawrence Okoye (John Hillier) improved on twelfth in London to fourth in the discus with a 64.49 throw in the sixth and final round, whilst English champion Abdul Buhari (Mark Wiseman) finished eighth with a best of 57.47m.

“I really gave it my all today and I’m very positive. I’ll rest up for next week and hopefully be much stronger in Berlin next weekend,” Okoye explained.

“It’s great to see the crowd and everyone supporting everyone. I love the way discus has really gone off and the future looks bright.”

“To throw 64.49m in these conditions is pretty good, if I can rest up I’m sure I can get close to my PB if not further.”

Bouncing back from missing the Olympic 100m final by just two places, Adam Gemili (Michael Afilaka) finished a respectable sixth in the 200m in a solid 20.53 personal best.

The 18-year-old improved from 20.61 and finished comfortably ahead of four-time Olympian Christian Malcolm (Dan Pfaff) from Cardiff who registered 20.80 here.

“It was good. I’m happy with it, very happy. It feels good to go to go out and run 20.53 and try a different event,” Gemili revealed.

“It feels like a long way, you run 100m and you’re like ‘I’ve got another 100m to go’, but it’s good.”

Fresh from finishing an outstanding fourth in the Olympics, Lawrence Clarke (Malcolm Arnold) finished in sixth in the 110m hurdles in 13.52 ahead of Olympic bronze-medallist Hansle Parchment of Jamaica into eighth (13.76).

The 22-year-old recorded a 13.31 personal best in the Olympic semi-final but could not get close to Olympic gold and silver-medallists Aries Merritt (who set a 12.95 meeting record to win) and his American team-mate, the runner-up Jason Richardson (12.98).

Following two eighth-place positions in the 5,000m and 10,000m in London Julia Bleasdale (Nic Bideau) capitalized on her breakthrough form to register an 8:46.38 personal best in sixth and take the scalp of Olympic 5,000m fifth-placer Gelete Burka of Ethiopia (8:48.84 in seventh).

The 30-year-old charged with the leading pack at the bell to show her recent boost in confidence and was only found wanting in the final 200m.

World junior bronze-medallist Emelia Gorecka (Mick Woods) improved her recent 8:59.05 personal best with an 8:55.11 clocking in ninth position – the 18-year-old finishing ahead of 3,000m steeplechase and 5,000m Olympic representative Barbara Parker (Sean Burris), who also recorded a personal best with 8:58.62 in eleventh.

Olympic semi-finalists Martyn Rooney (Nick Dakin) and Conrad Williams (Linford Christie) finished in sixth and eighth place in the 400m with 45.69 and 46.52, respectively.

Liverpool’s Anyika Onuora (Christine Bowmaker) finished eighth in the 100m, registering 11.38 behind winner American Carmelita Jeter, the Olympic silver-medallist who recorded a swift 10.81 meeting record.   

Onuora qualified for the final as a fastest-loser in fourth place with 11.41 and was content to feature in the top-eight here after exiting in the first round of both the 100m and 200m at the Olympics.

Meanwhile, 2007 European Junior 200m Champion, Hayley Jones (Donald Moss) placed seventh in heat one in 11.52 and British record-holder Montell Douglas (Daniel Plummer) finished seventh in heat two with a 11.81 clocking.

A fourth Brit, England champion Louise Bloor (Toni Minichiello) finished eighth in heat one in 11.84.

Olympic semi-finalist Andy Baddeley (Andy Hobdell) finished ninth in the 1500m, recording 3:38.87 to push UK indoor runner-up James Brewer (Craig Winrow) into tenth with his 3:39.59 season’s best.

18-year-old Charlie Grice (John Bigg) placed 12th in 3:43.46, whilst Niall Brooks (Norman Poole) finished one place behind in 3:51.95.

UK champion Eden Francis (Glenys Morton) could not use the home crowd support to her advantage in the shot put, finishing in eighth position with a 15.89m best effort throw in the first round.

Full results are available here: http://www.diamondleague-birmingham.com/Live-StartlistsResults/Overview/