30th July 2014

Greg's The Golden Boy Again

30 July 2014

Greg Rutherford (coach: Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) proved once again that he knows how to perform when it counts, adding the Commonwealth title to his Olympic crown thanks to an 8.20m jump in the third round. It is hard to believe that two years have passed since that magical Saturday evening in the Queen Elizabeth II stadium, but once again the British crowd inside Hampden Park produced a magical atmosphere, and the British record holder believes that played a huge part in his victory.

“What more can I ask for! You could see how much it meant to me out there. It felt like a home crowd out there; it really was just incredible. This is an incredible place to come and compete, and the Commonwealth Games will always have a special place in my heart as that was my first major championships. I won silver at my second one and now I’ve won gold!”

"It’s never an easy road and after what happened last year with injury I wasn’t sure if I could carry on jumping. Now I’ve managed to come away with another title. I think a few people had written me off thinking I was a one-hit wonder, but I’m here again and will be here again many more times. I’m super happy. I want to keep going out, there jumping far and winning medals.”

Joining Rutherford in the final were his fellow Englishmen Chris Tomlinson and JJ Jegede (Peter Stanley), who finished fifth and seventh respectively with 7.99m and 7.81m jumps.

Jessica Taylor (Mike Holmes) secured the only other British medal of the evening, taking a surprise bronze medal in the women’s heptathlon to continue the great British tradition in that event. In the absence of her training partner Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Taylor set a personal best of 5826 points as well as personal bests in the 100mH, the high jump and the long jump.

The javelin was the penultimate event for the heptathletes, and despite it being her weakest event, Taylor held on to her bronze medal position, although her lead over fourth was cut significantly. It was also Jess Tappin (Julie Holman) and Grace Clements’ (Ian Grant) weakest event, leaving them sixth and seventh respectively.

The trio left it all on the track in the 800m, Tappin challenging Canadian gold and silver medallists Brianne Theisen-Eaton and Jessica Zelinka for the win, whilst Taylor clocked 2.17.59 to beat Slack of Jamaica and remain close enough to Stanwell of Australia to secure bronze. Of that surprise medal, Taylor commented:

“I have no idea where that came from – it’s been a ridiculous year! I think I’ve put 444 points on my PB and I’ve just finished my seven year architecture degree as well! To come here and complete my degree has made it the best year of my life and I can’t believe I got a bronze medal. I am dead happy – I think I’ve smiled the whole way through and I’m loving every minute.”

Taylor also mentioned how she’d been planning to be in Glasgow, but not competing:

“I actually bought tickets to come and watch the Commonwealth Games and my cousin has taken my seat; this wasn’t on my radar at all!”

There was also a personal best score of 5695 points for Tappin, who after replacing Johnson-Thompson at the last minute finished a very creditable sixth. 2010 medallist Clements finished one place further back in seventh.

Chris Baker (Sharon Heveran) nearly capped his breakthrough season with a Commonwealth Games medal, as he almost cleared what would have been a 2.28m personal best with his final attempt. It was his one failure at 2.25m though that ultimately stopped him clinching bronze, as he had first time clearances until that point, meaning he had to settle for a fourth place finish.

2.25m was the height that really shaped the competition though, as twelve became four before Derek Drouin of Canada went on to clear 2.31m, enough for gold. The eight failing at this height included Martyn Bernard (Fuzz Ahmed) and Scotland’s Ray Bobrownicki (John Melvin). There was an early exit for Tom Parsons (Aston Moore), who after a third time clearance at the opening height, had three failures at 2.21m.

It was agonizingly close for Martyn Rooney (Rana Reider) in the men’s 400m final, as despite getting quicker every round he was forced to settle for fourth on the night. Drawn in line five, Rooney was left trailing as South African silver medallist Wayde Van Niekerk went storming through the first 200m inside 21 seconds. He did attack around the bend and was closing down the straight, but couldn’t peg back Olympic bronze medallist Lalonde Gordon of Trinadad and Tobago who took bronze.

There was no surprise about the winner, as Kirayni James strode away in the home straight to take gold in a new Commonwealth Games record time of 44.24. Rooney’s time in the final was 45.15.

Valarie Adams was another legend of the sport to take gold on the night, extending her unbeaten shot put run to defend her Commonwealth title. Whilst the distance was rather modest by her high standards, the 19.88m throw saw her take victory by over a metre.

Further down the field, there was a new lifetime best for Rachel Wallader of Team England to secure a brilliant fourth place. Her throw of 16.83m came in the second round, whilst her training partner Sophie McKinna threw a season’s best of 16.59 for fifth, with Eden Francis (Glenys Morton) sixth. There was also a personal best for Team Scotland’s Kirsty Yates (Joyce Rammell), who led early on with her 16.42m throw in round one. That was good for eighth, with compatriot Alison Rodger (Jim Edwards) tenth.

As with every distance race so far here at Glasgow 2014, Kenya dominated the women’s 3000m steeplechase taking a clean sweep of the medals. They were joined at the front by a brace of Australian’s until 400m to go, when they accelerated away to ensure it was a national battle for the medals, which Purity Kirui won.

After a troubled 2014, it was a season’s best for Eilish McColgan (Liz McColgan-Nuttall) who ran a smart race, eventually coming through for sixth in 9.44.65. The Scot enjoyed the experience and thanked the home crowd for their support, but had mixed feelings about her performance.

“It is a Native Record and a season’s best and it wasn’t a paced race like a Diamond League here; it is not where I want to be though. I will keep the season going because it still feels as if it is only just starting. I will try and run a couple more steeplechases and try and get it down to 9.30 something to set me up for 2015.

“The welcome for Lennie and I was something we will always remember. It all becomes a bit of a blur once the race starts but I want to thank everyone for their support.”

Running a big personal best just one second behind, England’s Rachael Bamford (Mike Baxter) ran the race of her life, finishing extremely strongly to finish seventh, her compatriot Pippa Woolven (Janet Nash) also running a big personal best in eighth. There were also sub ten clockings for Lennie Waite (Jim Bevan) and Kerry O’Flaherty (Richard Rodgers) in tenth and eleventh.

After showing great form in the build-up, it was disappointment for Goldie Sayers (Mark Roberson) in the women’s javelin, as she could only manage 57.68m, leaving her in seventh place. Also in action were Izzy Jeffs (Dave Parker) and Freya Jones (Don Babbitt), who finished ninth and tenth respectively.

Only making the semi-finals as a fastest loser, Guy Learmonth (George Gandy) showed a renewed sense of urgency, moving into one of the three automatic qualification spots with 200m to go, right behind Olympic champion David Rudisha and his teammate Ferguson Cheruiyot. And despite hitting a metaphorical wall with 50 metres to, Learmonth was willed all the way to the line by the Hampden Roar, with an inspired 1.47.78 performance booking his ticket to the Commonwealth Games final.

Post-race a delighted Learmonth commented:

“That was the best run of my life! I was running for third slot after consultation with my coaches George Gandy and Henry Gray. They told me to forget about time and concentrate on position. I’m loving the support of the crowd and trying to rise to it in terms of my performance. I can’t wait for the final – I will do my very best for Scotland.”

In the second semi-final, Michael Rimmer (Jon Bigg) went with the fast early pace, passing the bell in second place. He put himself in the right place and despite tying up in the last 40 metres, hung on for fifth. The good news, his 1.47.70 clocking was enough to see him into the final as a fastest loser.

The final was one step to far for both Mukhtar Mohammed (Bigg)and Joe Thomas (Arwyn Davies) who both finished seventh in their respective heats.

Bianca Williams (Lloyd Cowan) got the women’s 200m heats off to the perfect start, looking silky smooth and completely at ease as she won heat two in 22.97. Anyika Onuora (Reider) looked composed taking second place in heat four, whilst sporting long red tights, Jodie Williams (Christine Bowmaker) annihilated her competitors in heat five, winning with consummate ease from the inside.