3rd September 2014

Summer Series Success

What a summer it’s been! British performances at the European Championships in Zurich and Swansea surpassed what has ever been done before, whilst domestic perfomances were equally impressive. We’ve seen a number of new young talents emerge in the sprints and endurance events, whilst some of the older members of the team have fought back with some inspiring performances of their own across the whole Sainsbury’s Summer Series.

The series kicked off in earnest with the Sainsbury’s British Championships at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham at the end of June, where Dwain Chambers upset his young counterparts to win his eighth 100m title. Michael Rimmer also beat favourite Andrew Osagie to win his sixth 800m title, whilst Danny Talbot reeled in Adam Gemili in the last 20m to take his first British senior title in the 200m. Jodie Williams was crowned British champion in the 200m and Martyn Rooney began his return to form with a commanding victory in the 400m.

The showcase middle distance race of the event was the women’s 1500m. In a field that included breakthrough athlete Laura Muir and defending champion Hannah England, Laura Weightman closed the strongest to edge out Muir after a gargantuan battle over the last 200m.

Other highlights from the track included Emelia Gorecka out sprinting British 10,000m champion Jo Pavey in the 5000m after both women went all out over the final 400m as well as James Wilkinson and Eilish McColgan’s dominant wins in the steeplechase and Eilidh Child first 400mH title.

The field events also provided us with some fantastic battles, with heptathlon talent Katarina Johnson-Thompson the main protagonist. After her British indoor high jump record earlier in the year she took on the recent outdoor record breaker Isobel Pooley in a thrilling competition that she went on to win. Johnson-Thompson wasn’t done there though, as she returned the following day to win the long jump! The final afternoon also saw us welcome back ten time British javelin champion Goldie Sayers after missing the entire 2013 season. Sayers made it 11 titles in 12 years before going on to captain the GB & NI team in Zurich.

British Athletics and Sainsbury’s took over the Commonwealth Games’ Hampden Park Stadium to host the Sainsbury’s Glasgow Grand Prix which incorporated the ninth stop of the IAAF Diamond League. The event was held over two days and included one world record, one area record, two world leads, two meeting records, 5 national records and 27 personal bests.

The performance of the day had to be Matthew Hudson-Smith’s amazing effort for third place from lane eight in the men’s 400m, where he clocked a terrific personal best of 44.97.

800m world record holder David Rudisha returned to winning ways, leading from gun to tape to take the victory in a world leading time of 1:43.34. Stef Reid was also in terrific form, setting a new world record of 5.47m in the first round to see off the challenge of Marie-Amelie Le Fur by 4cm.

Scottish athletes also featured strongly in a men’s 1500m race won by Silas Kiplagat in 3:32.84. The Scottish pairing of Chris O’Hare and Jake Wightman led home a PB setting British quartet that also included Charlie Grice and Tom Farrell. William Sharman notched up his own personal best of 13.21 to win the 110mH in some style

In one of the hottest rivalries of the Sainsbury’s Glasgow Grand Prix, Paralympic and world T44 100m champion Jonnie Peacock took on the world record holder Richard Browne, but it was the American, Browne, who took victory by just 0.01 of a second.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson continued the British success with a personal best in the long jump which secured her second place, whilst Eilidh Child took a commanding victory in the 400mH in front of a home Scottish crowd with her fastest race of the season to that point.

Despite these fantastic female performances, Dafne Schippers led the women’s charge after she dominated the sprints. Her afternoon began with a national record and winning performance in the ‘B’ 100m with a time that would see her only lose the ‘A’ 100m race by one hundredth of the a second. Two hours later the Dutch athlete returned to the track in the 200m and produced another national record winning performance.

A week later the athletics world headed south for the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games. Tiffany Porter mirrored what many other athletes and supports had to say about the event, commenting:

“It was massive! The crowd was amazing, the track is fast and the field was amazing, so you really couldn’t ask for anything more than that.”

The event, which was only the third sporting fixture to be held on the iconic Horse Guards Parade and The Mall, saw World Championship bronze medallist Porter pull away from the field as she powered over the final four hurdles to cross the line in 12.71, just outside her season’s best. This performance saw her push world and Olympic champions Brianna Rollins and Sally Pearson into second and third respectively.

The highlight of the day on the track was saved until the last event and just as the heavens opened after a day of glorious sunshine creating a truly British day in the capital. Michael Rodgers set a season’s best of 9.91 to win the 100m, with 38-year-old Kim Collins setting a new St Kitts & Nevis national record of 9.96 in second.

With the crowd so close, the field events came to life with the spectators getting a real feel for the heights and distances achieved. In the purpose built shot circle, two time world champion David Storl enacted revenge for his recent Sainsbury’s Summer Series defeat in Glasgow with a world class put of 21.97m.

Renaud Lavillenie wowed the crowds in the pole vault, becoming the only man to clear 5.70m and took the win just metres from the front row. Chris Tomlinson and JJ Jegede secured a British one–two ahead of Christian Taylor in the long jump, whilst Aled Davies was dominant throughout every round of the men’s F42 shot put to earn him the Sainsbury’s Performance of the Day award.

Back on the track the British success continued in the sprints with Harry Aikines-Aryteey sealing victory in the men’s 100m ‘B’ race and Hannah Cockcroft dominating the T34 100m. Great Britain & Northern Ireland’s T38 100m world champion Sophie Hahn stormed to a 13.48 victory ahead of Russia’s Paralympic and European champion Margarita Goncharova, with European bronze medallist Olivia Breen taking third.

More para-athletic success came in the form of the ‘WeirWolf’ David Weir as he took to the Mall to win the 1 mile wheelchair race in emphatic style and on a road he has grown to love from his many victories in the London Marathon. Also out on the Mall, American Bernard Lagat showed his rivals a clean pair of heels to win the men’s 2 mile race.

The Sainsbury’s Summer Series came to a close as IAAF Diamond League points and IPC Athletics Grand Prix medals were handed out in an action packed Sunday of athletics.

The day began with the chance to earn points ahead of the final events in either Zurich or Brussels but it was the non-Diamond League men’s two mile race that stole the show as double Olympic, World and European Champion Mo Farah raced ahead to a convincing victory. Finishing over 100m ahead of second-placed, Farah smashed Steve Ovett’s 1978 British Record of 8:13.51 with an outstanding time of 8:07.85, which also stands as a new European record.

A close contender with Farah for performance of the day was Lynsey Sharp in the 800m. Sharp closed extremely well to beat reigning world and Commonwealth champion, and diamond league leader, Eunice Sum of Kenya in a time of 1:59.14. Laura Muir bounced back from Commonwealth Games disappointment with another gutsy finish to clinch fourth place and an 800m PB to go along with her 1500m PB from Paris earlier in the year.

Olympic champion and world record holder David Rudisha led a gun to tape victory over the rarely run 600m, but with no one for company the Kenyan narrowly missed out on the world record. Britain’s world junior championship finalist Kyle Langford finished in seventh in the same race, and on his Diamond League debut set a new British junior record over the distance.

The famous Emsley Carr Mile featured one of the best fields ever assembled in this event, with a meeting record of 3:51.89 required to secure victory for Asbel Kiprop of Kenya, adding his name to the historic list of past winners.

The much anticipated men’s high jump did not disappoint either as Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and the Ukrainian Bohdan Bondarenko both cleared a new meeting record of 2.38m on their first attempts. Despite some very close attempts, neither of the athletes could clear 2.41m, and the result had to be settled on count-back with Barshim proclaimed the winner.

Hannah Cockroft continued where she left off at Horse Guards Parade with a win in the T34 100m in a new meeting record, whilst in the T44 race, 100m sprinter Laura Sugar ran a superb race to finish third in a new British Record of 13.55 marking a huge improvement from her previous best of 13.71.

Over in the discus circle the rivalry continued as Dan Greaves and Aled Davies went head to head in the men’s F24/44 discus. Commonwealth and European F44 champion Greaves went out to 60.01m in the final round to take victory from Davies by just 19 points.

Few can argue what a great summer it’s been for athletics, and we hope you’ll join us again next year. Full information on the 2015 season will be available on the British Athletics website over the coming weeks.