James Rhodes brings you the best bits of a frenetic weekend of racing that included the return of athletics to the Olympic Stadium in London.
After a four-year absence, athletics returned to the Olympic Stadium with the London Diamond League. Or, as it is officially called, the hugely original London Athletics Meeting. The sell-out crowd close to 50,000 that travelled to Stratford was treated to a rather special afternoon of competition.
So much so, it is hard to know where to start. From a British perspective, perhaps the best performance came from Megan Keith in the 5000m. Following her win at last week’s European U23 Championships, she was a late addition to the field. A stellar field at that, headlined by Gudaf Tsegay and Sifan Hassan.
The Scot took it in her stride and made the most of the big stage. She took over 35 seconds off her lifetime best, finishing in 14:56.98 – 0.02s inside the World Championships standard. She is the thirteenth British athlete to run inside 15 minutes.
Gudaf Tsegay (14:12.29) won the race with the fifth fastest time in history ahead of Beatrice Chebet (14:12.92) and Sifan Hassan’s European Record (14:13.42). Medina Eisa set a World U20 Record (14:16.54) in fourth.
The men’s 1500m provided PBs for Neil Gourley (3:30.60), Elliot Giles (3:30.92) and Matt Stonier (3:31.30). The trio finished third, fourth and fifth respectively in a race won by Yared Nuguse (3:30.44). Less than two seconds separated the top 14 in a race with significant depth (3:32.46 was good enough for 14th!).
A domestic men’s 800m was added to the pre-programme to help athletes chase World Championship standards, with the UKA window closing that day. It was a great success, with six running inside 1:45. Unprecedented depth in British 800m racing. The race was a welcome return for Max Burgin (1:43.85) with his second fastest time, with Ben Pattison (1:44.02 PB) second. Ben is guaranteed a World Champs spot now, and Max will likely join him.
Behind Alex Botterill (1:44.75) ran inside 1:45 for the first time, with Guy Learmonth a shade outside his 2018 PB (1:44.80). Tom Randolph (1:44.88) and Ethan Hussey (1:44.96) also set lifetime bests, as did Reece Sharman-Newell (1:45.49).
The late withdrawal of Keely Hodgkinson did not dampen the women’s race over the same distance. Jemma Reekie took an impressive win in 1:57.30, her second fastest time. Katie Snowden moved to ninth on the UK all-time list (1:58.00), finishing fifth.
It was a good day for Aimee Pratt in the steeplechase, finishing a fine third. Her time (9:16.10) is just outside her PB and a Worlds and Olympic standard. In all, 14 British athletes ran Olympic qualifiers across the afternoon.
Caught Your Breath?
Two days earlier, the Diamond League was in Monaco for the Meeting Herculis. The highlight of the evening was the women’s mile, where Faith Kipyegon took almost five seconds off the World Record with 4:07.64. Behind, every athlete in the field set a PB.
They included Laura Muir (4:15.24) who broke Zola Budd’s longstanding British Record. Melissa Courtney-Bryant (4:16.38) was also inside Budd’s time, with a Welsh Record. The North American, Australasian and South American records were also bettered.
Also having a good day was Dan Rowden, who ran inside 1:44 for the first time (1:43.95) to secure his spot at the World Championships.
Will Battershill (9:22.64) improved his steeplechase PB in his Diamond League debut.
That was not all this weekend. At the Meeting Madrid on Saturday, Issy Boffey (finaly!) broke two minutes for 800m with 1:59.30. That is a Worlds and Olympic qualifier, and her reaction made for lovely viewing.
I‘ve been working up to sub-2 for a long time – the support from everyone means the world https://t.co/QsJs3sDPOL
— Isabelle Boffey (@IsabelleBoffey) July 22, 2023
Sarah McDonald continued to improve with 4:02.53 for 1500m. It is her best time since 2019 after longstanding injury and just outside the Olympic standard.
Track Round Up
Earlier in the week, Battershill finished seventh (8:24.37) at the Gyulai István Memorial in Hungary, with Zak Seddon (8:40.13) fourteenth. Battershill one of many athletes on a last-chance chase for a Worlds standard.
Abbie Ives (2:02.83) returned to racing at the Spitzen Leichtathletik Luzern in Switzerland. She was this week selected for next month’s European U20 Championships.
Henry Fisher (1:47.19) was half a second shy of his PB at Wednesday’s Meeting Arcobaleno AtleticaEuropa in Italy. Tom Keen (3:39.07) finished fourth in the 1500m at the Motonet GP in Finland.
A week after winning the European U23 Championships, Charles Hicks raced over 5000m at the Under Armour Sunset Tour in Los Angeles (13:27.08). That is just five seconds shy of his PB.
Champs in Chelmsford
The clash with the London Diamond League may have slightly depleted its fields, but the England Athletics Senior Championships took place in Chelmsford over the weekend.
Alfie Manthorpe (14:20.44) outsprinted Jack Gray (14:23.95) and Alasdair Kinloch (14:35.41) to win the men’s 5000m. No women’s race was held over the distance.
Khahisa Mhlanga continued her fine season with a PB to win the women’s 1500m (4:12.84), finishing almost seven seconds clear of the rest of the field. The men’s race saw less than a second separate the top three. Jack Gumm (3:55.39) just got the better of brothers Blake Moore (3:55.66) and Adam Moore (3:55.96).
Justin Davies (1:51.20) and Emily Simpson (2:09.29) won the respective 800m races.
On the Roads
Plenty has continued to happen on the roads this weekend.
Lily Partridge (33:02) bettered the course record at the Wrexham 10k. She finished over a minute clear of Emily Kearney (34:03) and Louise Small (34:23) in the process. Jonny Mellor continued his winning ways for the year in the men’s field. He crossed the line in 29:17, 14 seconds clear of Abdulqani Sharif (29:31) and Kadar Omar (29:46).
Jonathan Cornish (30:33) bettered the course record to win Sunday’s Elmbridge 10k, ahead of Andy Coley Maud (30:50) and Ollie Garrod (31:11). It was a close finish in the women’s race, with Lily Coward (36:14) recording the same chip time as Eliza Hawthorn, but one second faster on gun time. Gaby Reynolds (37:23) was third.
Darcie Hey (38:39) and Marshall Smith (31:14) took commanding victories at the New Romney 10k. There were wins for Thomas Grimes (35:09) and Abbie Kirkham (44:05) at the Deal Dinosaur 10k in Kent. The Docklands Marina 10k went to Charlotte Gregory (42:16) and David Hamilton (35:34).
Crossing north of the border to the Isle of Mull and the Mullrunners Half Marathon. John Ferusson (73:11) and Jessica Watson (89:50) took top spots. The associated 10k saw Fearghas Thomson (32:48) and Sheila Gollan (41:34) cross the line first.
Staying in Scotland, Michelle Slater (43:13) and Adam Holland (35:17) won the Stromness 10k.
There were also victories for Keri Pearson (38:45) and David McKinnon (33:14) at the Laxton 10k, Ollie Garrod (32:02) and Rebecca Ezra-Ham (36:34) at the Exeter 10k, Jake Watson (32:22) and Lisa Thomas (37:27) at the Pitchcroft 10k, and Erin Wilmers (37:32) and Scott Cameron (35:53) at the Thruxton 10k.