Exactly one year from the men’s 100m final at the Olympics Stadium in Stratford, a congregation of prospective Olympics competitors arrived less than 15 miles away; in Crystal Palace’s Athletics Stadium, for the Aviva London Grand Prix, Diamond League.
A recently formed patriotism was welcomed in the form of Mo Farah, Britain’s 5000 and 10000 metre event European Champion. The committed endurance runner kept a steady pace throughout the greatly anticipated 3,000m men’s race on Friday. American, David Krummenacker got off to a, perhaps over ambitious start whilst Farah kept at a steady and comfortable pace; leading the chasing group. Ireland’s former European indoor champion, Alister Cragg, (who trailed for the duration) surprised the majority with a tactical move to the front, after Krummenacker’s discontinuation of the race. With 200m to go, Farah released his preserved strength with an incredible sprint, almost reminiscent of Usain Bolt’s record breaking finish last year, to win with a time of 7:40.15 leading a proud Crystal Palace to a close.
With an impressive six representatives for Great Britain, at least one of our 800m women’s racers were bound to come out with a top three finish, and this was Jenny Meadows’ time to take the honour. Ranked as the world’s fourth best 800m women’s runner, Meadows stood out like a sore thumb as she bounded to a 1:58.60 victory against fierce competition. Fellow GB contenders, Marilyn Okoro and Emma Jackson joined Meadows in breaking under two minutes (the first for Jackson in her career).
Andrew Osagie, meanwhile, finished an acceptable fifth in the men’s 800m with 1:45.36 – more than two seconds slower than Kenyan world record holder, David Rudisha, but just enough to secure his place in Daegu in a couple of weeks’ time.
As dusk dawned over Crystal Palace, the spectator’s favourite, the 100 metre men’s final, took place. All eyes were on Jamaican contenders, Yohan Blake and Nesta Carter, who didn’t fail to satisfy; claiming both first and second places (Blake with 9:95 and Carter with 10:01- though Carter has previously run an impressive 9:78). With Mark Lewis Francis a hundredth of a second off qualifying, Harry Aikines Ayreetey was the only Briton competing in the race and unfortunately, finished in a disappointing last place. Ayreetey’s upper body weight was an obvious deterrent to his speed in the race and the astonishing 10kg difference between the weight between him and 100m men’s winner, Blake, is an issue that certainly needs to be addressed.
In women’s pole vaulting, USA’s Jennifer Suhr was the only athlete to pass over 4m 79” leaving a trail of mainly British and German competitors fighting for second place.
The women’s 4X100m Relay wasn’t all smiles as sloppy baton changeovers and stumbling sprints left both GBR teams unfinished. In light of this disappointing display however, there was hope for all middle-aged athletes out there, as the competition was graced by its oldest competitor ever, 51-year-old Merlene Ottey, the Jamaican-born Slovenia competitor who helped Sloven ia to sixth in the relay, outrunning Britain’s youngsters in the process.
The men’s 110m hurdles exuded great strength and competition. Although Britain’s Andrew Turner showed promise in the first heat, the pressure was deemed too much for him as he crashed through hurdle after hurdle in the final. Whilst superior in the second heat, American David Oliver, the third fastest man in history and the only man in the race to have run under 13 seconds, couldn’t pip Robles to the post, as the Cuban expressed a natural flair for this event, also beating Jamaica’s former top sprinter, Dwight Thomas.
In the men’s long jump, Daegu favourite Chris Tomlinson, was joined by GBR teammate Greg Rutherford in just missing out on victory in favour of Austria’s Mitchell Watt.
In men’s 400m, Britain’s Martyn Rooney was shown his age as Grenada’s 19-year-old Kirani James fought off all opponents.
After a string of mediocre performances, Goldie Sayers hinted at hope for the women’s javelin throw prospects, coming out in third place with an acceptable gap above the lesser competitors.