Archive for September, 2012


The crowds poured in by the thousands round the Quayside to attend the sign-off episode of a sensational summer and relish a last encore of some of their Olympic heroes at the Great City Games in Newcastle, serving as the fall equinox of home athletics as the outdoor track season takes to the streets thereon to hand over the baton to the road in the shape of the Great North Run the following day.

A street version of the once traditional GBR vs USA matches, the Americans may have settled the affair as early as midway through to finally prevail 6-3 in wins between them but the British fans were delighted to witness some surprisingly strong late performances from athletes such as Chris Tomlinson and Dwain Chambers that lend even more promise to the following season.

Dan Pfaff-bound Holly Bleasdale suffered a low flight of just 4.10m, admittedly having not done any training since London, as she slipped to a surprise defeat by Mary Saxy (4.25) in a short-run opening women’s pole vault, U20 hot prospect Katie Byres rounding out the field at 3.80, while Hannah England looked to have measured her efforts superbly only to be denied by a marauding late charge from burgeoning half-miler Brenda Martinez at the death in the mile to turn the tide decisively in favour of the US team from the early days.

World champion Jenny Simpson opted to embark on an unfamiliar hard run straight to the front to open up a healthy gap on the field that she held well into the second half of the race until an audacious move by Julia Bleasdale, always relishing to test her limits, saw her haul in the American off the Swing Bridge where England worked her way back on terms more steadily soon.

As the finish line loomed ahead turning into the home stretch, England was well poised to strike out past a tiring Simpson for home, maybe a click too early, and looked like having done enough to clinch top honours for Britain, Bleasdale falling behind and Anna Pierce with Shannon Rowbury out of contention; yet, out of nowhere screamed past lightning Martinez like a train down the way, in a late established trademark fashion, to steal a victory against the odds over the last 40m in 4:34.99 to 4:35.56.

The 25-year-old half-miler was the least fancied among the American quartet to figure at the top, venturing on the upper end of her range, but she is already a useful miler (4:06.96 PB over 1500m) and offered a full measure of her fiercesome kick to suggest a major new force in the making over both distances in view of next season.

Nonetheless, there were many positives for the Brit to draw out of the tussle before swinging out to the terminal stop of a season that never came her way, her luck not lasting even as far as the finish line of an early Pyrrhic victory in Hengelo, lining up at the renowned 5th Avenue Mile in New York.

Behind the two, Pierce battled into the top three in 4:36.44 ahead of Simpson, who had to eventually do with fourth in 4:37.17 for all her pains, whereas Bleasdale faded back into fifth in 4:38.89. U20 sensation Jessica Judd gained further valuable excerience in a fastest ever mile on any surface in 4:42.30 followed by Eilish McColgan in 4:42.84 in the rear two places.

Following next, the men’s equivalent was nothing short of a nailbiting thriller either as a rejuvenated James Brewer turned back the pages of his form book to reignite his U23 promise and give great Bernard Lagat, the red-hot favourite, a real scare and a race for his money.

The legendary former double world champion attempted to lay down his law from the outset by means of a brisk pace at the helm but, much to a growing astonishment around, could not shake off the stout challenge of the Brit who moved alongside into the final quarter of the race, growing in confidence with every stride.

So much so that Brewer appeared to turn the screw and Lagat digging deep to hang on into the final burn-up but the American made his expertise count as he ground out a vital metre entering the home track straight and used his body expertly to shut the ways past as his young rival rallied to threaten again late for a narrow victory in 4:01.62 against 4:01.81, a road best for the latter.

Mark Rowland-coached Jordan McNamara was a clear third some way behind in 4:02.86 and U23 Jonny Hay worked his way through in the late stages for fourth in 4:05.03 ahead of 800m man Mukhtar Mohammed.

The spectacle of Brewer back in full flow was a delight to watch and will afford a further boost alongside Ross Murray’s summer revelation to the British mile scene in quest of a return into the thick of affairs at global level as Andy Baddeley could be pondering a move up in distance, with the likes of James Shane hopefully returning fully fit next season.

By stark contrast, Olympic short relay champion Jeneba Tarmoh bossed the women’s 100m from her first step out of the blocks minutes earlier and never allowed a slightest shade of doubt cast on the outcome as she made a slick transition into a firm lead and drove powerfully down the track to win comfortably in a fast late-season 11.17 secs (0.6m/sec), placing a thorough gap on compatriot Miki Barber and Anyika Onuora who battled it out for the runner-up spot behind in 11.37 and 11.42 secs.

Chris Tomlinson lands at a superb third-round 8.18m to nail a top-notch long jump on the Quayside

Mo Farah comfortably dominates the men’s 2 miles

Full Results

http://www.greatcitygames.org/Results/2012_gncg.aspx

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Lawrence Okoye and Shara Proctor staged spirited late comebacks to come away impressive winners in the discus and the long jump respectively at the Hanzekovic Memorial in Zagreb, applying a gloss finish to the close of their summer campaigns.

Both athletes seem to be treading on parallel trails in recent weeks as they made their respective finals in style but could not quite follow through to slip outside the top eight places in London so maybe it shouldn’t come as casual they earned their spurs on an identical pattern.

Okoye was enjoying a solid outing lying in third place on a second-round 64.51m, Dutchman Erik Cadee narrowly leading from Piotr Malachowski (POL) through a 65.67m in his fifth, but hardly anything in the build-up had suggested what was about to come as the giant 20-year-old Brit stepped into the ring for a final time.

This time round his throwing came all together to let fly the implement way beyond to a powerful 67.25m, his third farthest mark ever, and stun his rivals at the death as they were barely left with any chance or time to respond in a manner reminiscent of Manchester United’s renowned late winners.

A ‘continent’ best and meeting record on his part, the Croydon thrower marked a return to winning ways for the first time since July and he will be brimming with confidence heading to his last major fixture in Brussels, the formal curtain drawer of the Diamond League series and the Olympic season.

Cadee, closing out the competition with only 63.43m, had to do with second in the end and Malachowski remained third on a fourth-attempt 65.64m while Indian Vikas Gowda came fourth at 64.06 further behind.

Likewise, UK record holder Proctor was stranded down in the 6.50m region and fourth place up to her fifth attempt, a best of 6.58 (-0.2) in round four, as the main action was played out between Natassia Mironchik-Ivanova and season find Chelsea Hayes (USA) at 6.68 (-0.3) and 6.64 (0.0) up front in the long jump pit.

Yet, the Briton somehow drew inspiration to grind out a last-ditch 6.79 (0.3), a meeting record at that, and steal an unlikely victory out of the hands of a shell-shocked Belarusian, who could reach no further than 6.49 in her last effort, to bow out of the term on a winning note and smile – as ever, nothing is over until is over!

Funmi Jimoh was fourth at 6.59 and a very quiet Darya Klishina, a major absentee from London, faltered well below in sixth at just 6.39m.

Martyn Rooney had added a third British win in between in the men’s 400m as he controlled the race through in lane five and never left the final outcome in doubt. Building up nicely round the top bend, he carved out plenty of distance on the field to ease down the home straight to 45.78 secs on top with 1:42 800m man Duane Solomon back in third in a decent 46.39 secs.

Jeneba Tarmoh, a member of the world record-breaking US sprint relay in the Olympics, put up some decent fight over the first 60m or thereabouts but world champion Carmelita Jeter had too much in the final third of the women’s 100m to draw away to a clear victory in 11.06 to 11.30 secs into a slight headwind (-0.6).

Anyika Onuora just managed to dodge last spot by a hundredth of a second from Hayes, before taking up her long jump duties, in 11.59 but fared much better over the 200m to take fourth in 23.17 as sprint superstar Allyson Felix dominated with ease in a professional 22.35 (-0.2), another meeting landmark in the process.

Aileen Bailey and Charonda Williams battled stride for stride down the home straight and it was the Jamaican to sneak the runner-up spot in 22.95 to 22.96 on the line.

In the men’s dash, Ryan Bailey returned to winning ways as he weathered evergreen Kim Collins’s trademark blast as far as around 70m fabulously to power through to a convincing victory in 10.02 secs against the former world champion’s 10.14 at the end, while Mario Forsythe got third in 10.25 ahead of Darvis Patton and Michael Frater who were tied in 10.31.

Nickel Ashmeade, sadly, pulled up around 60m into the race apparently due to a hamstring injury and that could signify a slightly early end to a sound season of his.

Jason Richardson didn’t get off to the best of starts but his neat hurdling saw him swiftly restore order to storm through to a commanding 13.08 secs (-0.4) and well ahead of US record holder David Oliver in the 110m hurdles, the latter leaving a trail of disaster in his wake as he clattered no less than six hurdles with his trail leg on the way – and still managed a very respectable 13.22 secs!

The Olympic silver medallist, as well as the reigning world champion, has been enjoying a fabulous season, having posted 12.98 secs three times, save that he cannot find a way past an imperious Aries Merritt who looks invincible these days.

South African Lehann Fourie was third marginally off his PB in 13.28 followed by Ryan Wilson in fourth in 13.43, Jeff Porter and Beijing silver medallist David Payne tied in 13.55 secs.

Kellie Wells was first out of the blocks but slipped over hurdle two never to recover thereon, Kristi Castlin enduring a nightmare of a race in the adjacent right lane, which opened the way to the in-late-form duo of Ginnie Crawford and Queen Harrison to notch up the top two slots in 12.68 and 12.74 respectively in the women’s equivalent of the 100m hurdles, with Canadian Priscilla Lopez-Schliep third in 12.86 secs.

Reese Hoffa has taken the bit between his teeth since his defeat in London to dominate over double Olympic champion Thomasz Majewski (POL) nonchalantly once more as he pounded the 21m region of the sector relentlessly through the six rounds of the shot put; 21.34. 21.76, 21.56, 21.80, x and 21.70m to tell the tale as any of his valid five efforts would have claimed the spoils comfortably.

“What if” must be turning through the American’s mind, unbeaten since the Olympics, as the Pole could not mount any sort of response at any point to come a distant second over a metre down at 20.70 with world indoor champion Ryan Whiting in third at 20.52m.

Local heroine Sandra Perkovic had no trouble whatsoever to boss the women’s discus on a second-attempt 65.79m, plus two more throws in that province, while in-late-peak Jamaican Rosemarie Whyte was a runaway winner over the women’s quarter-mile in a meeting record and SB of 50.08 secs.

Denisa Rosolova was second in 52.07 and Marilyn Okoro came through strongly in the late stages to grab third in 52.67 secs in another solid performance.

Elsewhere, Olympic champion Taoufik Makhloufi comfortably put away a quality men’s 1500m in 3:32.58 with a familiar surge over the last 300m, Jairus Birech saw off Abel Mutai in 8:11.80 (MR) to 8:12.47 over the men’s ‘chase and Maggie Vessey shadowed the women’s 800m in 1:59.61 although her let-up at the end almost cost her the win to fast-finishing compatriot Brenda Martinez, who shattered her PB into 1:59.63.

Full Results

http://www.zagreb-meeting.com/en/results/

Costas Goulas