14th August 2010

Saturday At The Palace


14 August 2010

Follow this link for timetable, start lists and results from the Aviva London Grand Prix

On day two of the Aviva London Grand prix, the cool conditions and occasional windy periods meant times and distances were sometimes under par, but the Crystal Palace support were warmed by the world class fields on show and some strong late season performances by Aviva GB & NI team members.


On a day when athletes were vying not only for the prestige of winning at the Aviva London Grand Prix, and the ongoing Samsung Diamond League series, there were also a few hints of potential for the Commonwealth Games, with some athletes demonstrating they had more to give in the long 2010 season.

In an exciting preview of October’s Games action, a victory in the 4x100m race went to the England A squad who ran a solid four legs and were anchored home by a relieved Mark Lewis Francis (Linford Christie) looking delighted to bring home his team in first with no problems.

The squad of Tremayne Gilling, Jeffrey Lawal Balogun, Leevan Yearwood and Lewis Francis were easy victors with 39.31 ahead of an overseas ‘all stars’ foursome comprising Tyrone Akins, Aaron Armstrong, Brian Dzingai and Joel Brown in 39.75.

Lewis Francis said:

“I definitely enjoyed that; I can put the European Championships behind me and I’ve been able to come here to London and fly the flag!

“It’s given me confidence for the Commonwealth Games, but it’s still a long way off in October so I’ll take small steps, get strong again and see what happens.”

In the women’s 800m race, there was a highly competitive pack vying for position late on where eight athletes were still in contention on the final sprint down the home straight – Russia’s Mariya Savinoa was a dominant winner in 1:58.64. But there was a strong British showing with Jemma Simpson (Mark Rowland) timing her run well for third in 1:59.26 and Jenny Meadows (Trevor Painter) who got badly boxed in at one point looking in good shape in fifth with a late run for 1:59.40.

Better still was the sight of Lisa Dobriskey (George Gandy) in seventh stepping down a distance for a PB of 2:00.14 and Stoke’s Emma Jackson (Alan Morris) also setting a lifetime best in ninth with 2:00.88.

Simpson was pleased with her placing but was determined to show further improvements by way of times:

“I seem to be running that sort of time consistently this season. I think I’m building up to quicker times. Once I get more confidence I think I’ll run quicker times all the time. But the 800m is hard because every race is so different, you can never tell how it is going to be run.”

The men’s 400m Diamond League race did not disappoint the Palace spectators with popular stateside visitor Jeremy Wariner taking the win in 44.67 in fairly blustery conditions, earning the Texan maximum points in the overall  Diamond League race. Brits Michael Bingham (Ken Harnden) was fourth with 45.49 and Martyn Rooney (Nick Dakin) crossed the line in sixth with 45.89.

Afterwards, Rooney  –  a Croydon club athlete – was gutted with his showing in front of his home crowd and apologised for his performance:

“I’m so sorry, I got distracted watching Wariner and making sure I didn’t go off too fast but as a result I went to slow.

“I have to say thanks for the support but I should have done better than that.”

Bingham added:  

“The race itself wasn’t great, me and Rooney should have been up there and capitalised.

"Picking yourself back up after the European Champs is hard. The crowd were awesome today, this is the biggest crowd we’ve run in front of in a while and  I am looking forward to next year.”

American Allyson Felix may well have taken the women’s 400m race win in 50.79 to complete an impressive 200m/400m double from the weekend, but it was the performance of European 400m hurdles bronze medallist Perri Shakes Drayton in seventh that was notable for the GB supporters – the impressive youngster taking a ‘flat’ PB of 51.48 away from the action to compliment her successful summer so far. Vicky Barr was eighth with 53.82.

USA sprint hurdler David Oliver was a predictable winner of the men’s 110m hurdles in the afternoon’s penultimate event, also equalling the meeting record with his swift 13.06 ahead of Dwight Thomas on 13.32.

However Andy Turner (Lloyd Cowan) experienced mixed fortunes on the afternoon, firstly delight at winning his earlier heat, then despair at struggling with a clash of arms in the final and finishing last. It was tough luck on the European gold medallist but his earlier win in 13.32 displayed all the slick ability that took him to the Gold medal in Barcelona just two weeks ago. Likewise William Sharman (George Maciukiewicz), still smarting from his false start disqualification at the European Championships was buoyed by a fourth place in the final and a season’s best of 13.39, proving the rollercoaster of fortune that can afflict the most complex and technical of the shorter sprints.

On the field, the popular figure of USA shot putter Reese Hoffa was once again seen jigging in celebration following another Aviva London Grand prix victory. Hoffa, who has seen compatriot Christian Cantwell in dominant form this year, took the win with a fourth round season’s best of 21.44m.

The energetic Hoffa delighted the crowd with his performance and then his declaration of his love of competing in the UK:

“I tend to throw really well in Britain! Here, Birmingham, Gateshead, wherever – If you’d have me I’d be British tomorrow!” he said.

Fellow American Wallace Spearmon took the men’s 200m race victory at about the same time that Hoffa was being announced as shot put winner with a sharp 20.12 win. Marlon Devonish (Tony Lester) and Christian Malcolm (Dan Pfaff) were fifth and eighth respectively in 20.63 and 20.81.

Later in the afternoon the women’s scheduled sprint of the day – the 100m – was won by Marshevet Myers of the USA in 11.01 ahead of an impressive field including the ‘fastest woman alive’ Carmelita Jeter – also from the USA – who was reduced to second in 11.06.

In the women’s pole vault there was a win for Brazilian Fabiana Murer, although the windy conditions that hit the stadium midway in the afternoon affected the heights being cleared – her one clearance of the competition at 4.46m enough to take first place. In third, Kate Dennison (Steve Rippon) also cleared 4.46m but had some close attempts at 4.61m.

Also taking a third place during the afternoon for GB was Chris Tomlinson (Frank Attoh) who saw a mammoth third round leap red flagged and his best of the day – a 7.92m fourth round leap, could not impact on event winner Dwight Phillips of the USA with 8.18m.

In the men’s discus there was an impressive display by GB youngster Brett Morse (Nigel Bevan) who threw a PB of 63.35 in finishing sixth behind event winner Gerd Kanter with 67.82. It means the Birchfield Harrier is peaking perfectly for the up and coming Commonwealth Games where he will hope to represent Wales.

Another young thrower looking to be in good form ahead of Delhi was Scottish javelin thrower James Campbell (Mick Hill) – his 75.83m taking eighth in a world class javelin competition won by current Diamond League leader, Norway’s Andreas Thorkildsen.

Campbell’s fellow Scott Eilidh Child (Stuart Hogg) had a superb 400m hurdles race, taking third overall but claiming a Scottish record on 55.16 in the process.

“I was a bit tired coming back from Barcelona but I’m getting back into it now,” admitted Child.

“I don’t know how I’ll be in October as it’s a long season but hopefully I’ll be in good shape and able to do something good in Delhi!”

Jamaica’s Kaliese Spencer won the race and maximum Diamond League points with 53.78.

World Junior Triple Jump silver medallist Laura Samuel (Glenys Morton) was eighth in the women’s triple jump competition with a best of 12.71m from her first round jump. Cuban Yargelis Savigne took the win and maximum Diamond League Race points with 14.86m.

The men’s high jump competition was an expected win for Russian Ivan Ukhov with a best height of 2.29m, with top GB performers Samson Oni (Trevor Llewelyn)  and Robbie Grabarz (Fuzz Ahmed) both clearing 2.24m for fifth and sixth position.

The women’s 3000m steeplechase was won in an impressive sprint finish from Kenya’s Milcah Chemos – taking the line in 9:22.49 ahead of Russia’s Yuliya Zarudneva on 9:22.60. Hattie Dean (Bud Baldaro),Tina Brown (Glynn Tromans), and Helen Clitheroe (Trevor Painter) placed eleventh, 12th and 13th, with Brown perhaps having the best day on the track setting a PB with 9:48.08.

The prestigious Emsley Carr Mile closed proceedings as the last track event and the 2010 title went to Kenya’s Augustine Choge, who ran a lifetime best of 3:50.14 to become the latest in a line of middle distance legends to take the esteemed race win. Top Brit was Tom Lancashire (Norman Poole) who was impressive with a mile PB of 3:53.39 in ninth place.

Ahead of Sunday’s UKA Disability Athletics Challenge at the same venue, there was also a chance for some additional races for the top World and GB Paralympic talent:

Oscar Pistorius competed over 400m for the second time in 24 hours and thrilled the Saturday Palace crowd with a T44 400m world record of 47.04. Britain’s Ian Jones was second in 51.65, one place better than his bronze medal behind Pistorius at the Beijing Paralympics.

Later the Blade runner was delighted with his track results : “I’m super happy. After yesterday’s race, it was really difficult today. I’m happy to have run decent times back to back. Being in London is unbelievable.

“We are going to have to get used to these conditions for London 2012 but the crowds here are amazing. Today I went out hard, may be a bit too ballsy but yesterday I started to slow. I’m happier with today’s race. It’s great to have these Paralympics events at the London Grand Prix.”

In the women’s T12/T44 100m sprint, the combination of Paralympic disciplines enabled the GB support to see Beijing Paralympic silver medallist Libby Clegg (Tom Crick) take on compatriot and Paralympic T12 200m bronze medallist Stefanie Reid (Dan Pfaff) who is fresh from a T44 World long Jump record set at last week’s McCain Jumpsfest event.

As it was, Clegg had the strength to take victory by almost a second in 12.72, with Reid taking third in 13.69.

In the afternoon’s development  event – the junior men’s 3000m, there was a clear victory by UK National cross country champion Richard Goodman (Geoff Williams), who not only ran a significant PB of 8:12.94, but had time to wave to the watching spectators as he rounded the final bend with a 30-40m lead. In second place was fellow Aviva GB & NI cross country team mate Jonny Hay (Mick Woods) with 8:15.96.

The spectator entertainment event – the Aviva Legends relay, featuring teams anchored home by GB  greats Roger Black, John Regis, Iwan Thomas and Jason Gardener was won by ‘Team Black’ – leading a squad from the Independent on Sunday to a popular victory.