Category: Athletes


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

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As the curtains have come down on the most spectacular showpiece of sport on earth and the dust is yet to settle in the arena, just as the cheering of the crowds still resounds around the stands, at the Olympic stadium at Stratford in the wake of nine days of pulsating end-to-end action, the time has come to take a thorough look into the performance of the British team, both on an individual and a collective footing, and assess the gains and losses effected across the board.

Britain claimed four gold medals courtesy of Mo Farah, who accomplished a monumental double over 5000 and 10000m, Jessica Ennis in a UK record in the heptathlon and Greg Rutherford in the long jump to equal their best ever figure post WWII, established initially in Tokyo (1964) and emulated in Moscow (1980), as well as a silver by Christine Ohuruogu over 400m and a bronze from Robbie Grabarz in the high jump for a haul of six medals overall, highest since Sydney in 2000.

Mo Farah storms to a sensational Olympic title ahead of Dejen Gebremeskel (ETH) over 5000m to wrap up a sublime long distance double along with his 10000m gold a week earlier.

All the same, amidst the buzz and excitement of the heroics of Team GB towards an astounding third place in the Olympic medal table the effect of a relative shortfall in minor silverware or top eight places was somewhat tempered, yet there should not escape the fact that there were either alarming or mystifying gaps in the presence of the team that demand addressing.

The Britons registered a sole male finalist, Andie Osagie, in the distances from 100 through to 1500m just as the women came up with a single representative in Ohuruogu at the sharp end of the sprint and hurdle events; puzzling late formation decisions saw both long relays crash out of the top three places where the lack of medals in the women’s jumps felt slightly as an anticlimax seen against the Turkish delight of three gongs earned in Istanbul a few months earlier.

Nevertheless, hope and promise remain robust for the future as burgeoning prospects such as Lawrence Clarke, Laura Weightman, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Adam Gemili and Sophie Hitchon picked up high marks in their first exams on the grand stage while a sound core to the team lies already in place for an even more successful new Olympic cycle leading up to Rio.

So let’s get started with a detailed picture of the statistics of the team’s showing before we move on to an athlete-by-athlete analysis.

MEDALS (6)

Gold Medals (4): Mo Farah (5000 & 10000m), Jessica Ennis (Heptathlon), Greg Rutherford (LJ)

Silver Medals (1): Christine Ohuruogu (400m)

Bronze Medals (1): Robbie Grabarz (HJ)

TOP 8 PLACES (13)

4th places (3): Lawrence Clarke (110mh), Dai Greene (400mh), Men’s 4x400m (Conrad Williams, Jack Green, Dai Greene, Martyn Rooney)

5th places (3): Steve Lewis (PV), Yamile Aldama (TJ), Women’s 4x400m (Shana Cox, Lee McConnell, Christine Ohuruogu, Perri Shakes-Drayton)

6th places (2): Holly Bleasdale (PV), Chris Tomlinson (LJ)

7th places (2): Jo Pavey (5000 & 10000m)

8th places (3): Julia Bleasdale (5000 & 10000m), Andie Osagie (800m)

OTHER FINALISTS (6)

9th places (1): Shara Proctor (LJ)

10th places (1): Lisa Dobriskey (1500m)

11th places (1): Laura Weightman (1500m)

12th places (3): Lawrence Okoye (DT), Sophie Hitchon (HT), Alex Smith (HT)

___________________________________________________________________________

UK RECORDS (3)

Women

Heptathlon: Jessica Ennis 6955

100mh: Jessica Ennis 12.54

HT: Sophie Hitchon  71.98

UK U23 RECORDS (1)

Women

HT: Sophie Hitchon 71.98

UK U20 RECORDS (1)

Women

Heptathlon: Katarina Johnson-Thompson 6267

___________________________________________________________________________

World leading marks (1)

Women

Heptathlon: Jessica Ennis 6955

European leading marks (5 plus a WL)

Men

10000m: Mo Farah 27:30.42

4×400: Conrad Williams, Jack Green, Dai Greene, Martyn Rooney 2:59.53

Women

5000m: Julia Bleasdale 15:02.00

10000m: Jo Pavey 30:53.20

100mh: Jessica Ennis 12.54

UK leading marks (4 plus a WL and 5 ELs)

Men

100m: Dwain Chambers 10.02

800m: Andie Osagie 1:43.77

110mh: Lawrence Clarke 13.31

Women

400m: Christine Ohuruogu 49.70

___________________________________________________________________________

PERSONAL BESTS (11)

Men

800m Andie Osagie 1:43.77

110mh Lawrence Clarke 13.31

Women

200m Margaret Adeoye 22.94

1500m Laura Weightman 4:02.99

5000m Julia Bleasdale 15:02.00, Barbara Parker 15:12.81

10000m Jo Pavey 30:53.20, Julia Bleasdale 30:55.63

Heptathlon Jessica Ennis 6955, Katarina Johnson-Thompson 6267

HT Sophie Hitchon 71.98

Multi-events Individual Personal Bests (9)

Men

100m Daniel Awde 10.71

Women

200m Jessica Ennis 22.83, Katarina Johnson-Thompson 23.73

800m Katarina Johnson-Thompson 2:10.76

100mh Jessica Ennis 12.54, Katarina Johnson-Thompson 13.48 (equal)

HJ Katarina Johnson-Thompson 1.89

JT Jessica Ennis 47.49, Louise Hazell 47.38

OVERALL PERSONAL BESTS: 20

___________________________________________________________________________

SEASON BESTS (10)

Men

100m Dwain Chambers 10.02, James Dasaolu 10.13

10000m Mo Farah 27:30.42, Chris Thompson 29:06.14

Marathon Scott Overall 2h22:37

4x400m Conrad Williams, Jack Green, Dai Greene, Martyn Rooney 2:59.53

Women

400m Christine Ohuruogu 49.70

5000m Jo Pavey 15:02.84

Heptathlon Louise Hazell 5856

4x400m Shana Cox, Lee McConnell, Christine Ohuruogu, Perri Shakes-Drayton 3:24.76

Lawrence Clarke was a revelation of the British team as he snatched a highly unexpected fourth in the 110m hurdles having set a PB of 13.31 secs in the semis

Further statistics:

* Jessica Ennis became the third female multi-eventer from the British shores, after Mary Peters and Denise Lewis, to clinch the Olympic title and raise the heptathlon, incorporating its former version of the pentathlon, as the most successful event for the women’s team in the history of the Olympics. Her score of 6955pts was her second UK record, in the same season at that, to see her move 5th in the all-time rankings in the world.

Come to that, Ennis became the first Briton to lay down two individual UK records in an Olympic Games since Linford Christie in 1988 in Seoul, revising markers in the 100 and 200m.

* Mo Farah emerged as the first Brit to ever claim the Olympic summit in both the 5000 and the 10000m as well as fulfilling that particular distinguished distance double in history, the first European since great Finn Lasse Viren (1976) and sixth in history overall. Ian Stewart (bronze, 1972) and Mike McLeod (silver, 1984) were the last Brits to mount the podium over those distances until London.

* No British relay team have turned in a medal at a global outdoor championships since Berlin 2009.

* Andie Osagie set a PB of 1:43.77 in the men’s 800m final that shapes the fastest time by a Brit over the distance since Peter Elliott winning in 1:42.97 in Seville in distant 1990, slotting into fourth in the UK all-time lists. Furthermore, he came the first Olympic finalist from Britain in the event since Curtis Robb, who occupied sixth back in Barcelona 1992.

* Greg Rutherford ended a long wait of 48 years as he turned the first Brit to clinch the ultimate crown, or even a medal, in the long jump since Lynn ‘the leap’ Davies in Tokyo in 1964.

* Britain failed to put up a single male finalist in the 1500m for the first time since 1992.

* Katarina Johnson-Thompson put together her third UK U20 record this season but remained seventh all-time in the global U20 rankings while her PB of 1.89m in the high jump was the highest by a British U20 girl since Susan Moncrieff‘s equal UK U20 record of 1.91m in 1997.

* Sophie Hitchon initiated Britain’s account in Olympic finals in the women’s hammer, reaching her fourth UK record this season and sixth overall in the progress, while Alex Smith brought an end to a 28-year drought without a Briton in the men’s equivalent. The last to do so were Robert Weir, Martin Girvan and Matt Mileham in Los Angeles in 1984.

* No British sprinter has made the 100m final since Sydney 2000 where Dwain Chambers and Darren Campbell placed fourth and sixth respectively. For that matter, Campbell is the last Brit to have won an individual sprint medal as he went on to grab silver over 200m in the very same Olympics.

* Christine Ohuruogu made the first British girl ever to lay her hands on a second individual Olympic medal, in back-to-back Olympics at that, as well as the only one that has dipped inside 50 secs three times over 400m.

* Dai Greene is the first Briton to make the Olympic 400m hurdles final since Kriss Akabussi‘s bronze medal flight in Barcelona 1992 while Lawrence Clarke brought an end to a barren spell since Colin Jackson‘s fifth in Sydney 2000.

* Holly Bleasdale is the first ever female vaulter from the UK to have made the top eight or even make a final, placing sixth, while Steve Lewis attained the highest ever slot in the men’s equivalent with a fine fifth in London.

* Jo Pavey and Julia Bleasdale moved second and third in the 10000m in the British all-time charts through their PBs of 30:53.20 and 30:55.63 respectively, placing seventh and eighth, to double the number of Brits under 31 minutes as they joined legends Paula Radcliffe and Liz McColgan in that territory.

Come to that, they occupied the very same places in the 5000m later into the championships, a quite unusual occurence, where Bleasdale had also improved her PB into 15:02.00 to go eighth in the respective all-time lists.

Greg Rutherford has been long touted to take British long jumping to new realms but a little touch of the art of great Carl Lewis, the undisputed master of the game, seems to launch him towards the heights of his potential.

A tweak on his take-off phase out of the book of the American four-time Olympic champion, overseen by coach Dan Pfaff,  is paying already handsome dividents as he reached a new PB of 8.35m as early as his third showing this season, equalling Chris Tomlinson‘s British record in the process.

After all, Rutherford is a useful sprinter himself, holding a PB of 10.26 secs over 100m, so such a tune-up was always bound to fall in nicely with his gear.

Chula Vista, near San Diego in California, may be widely regarded as a heaven for discus throwers but looks also to turn a happy ground in the case of the 25-year-old Briton who had matched the Olympic A standard of 8.20 (1.2m/sec) on his previous call at the venue a week earlier.

All the same, Rutherford had trouble adapting his run-up on the runway in the early to middle stages as he twice came shy of the board to record 7.89m (2.1m/sec) and 8.02m (1.9m/sec) where he simply ran through when he readjusted on the third effort.

But it all eventually came together in the very next attempt as he rode on a perfect tailwind of 2.0m/sec to land that big new lifetime best and sweep to the summit of the global rankings, erasing a previous marker of 8.30m that stood since the qualifying round in Berlin in 2009.

Suffice it to say that such a distance raises him as a genuine medal contender in London and he apparently felt content with his day work to pass on his last couple of attempts and save for more demanding occasions later into the season.

Surveying the scene from a largely new perspective, the co-British record holder is turning now his sights firmly on his first serious mission of the season at the opening leg of the new Diamond League in Doha, Qatar, where he will be aiming to establish himself in the driving seat of the event early on the way to the Olympics.

Also lining up will be Tomlinson himself to set up a first head-to-head at the forefront of the British scene although it might be a journey into the unknown to an extent for the latter on his first outing since the final in Daegu early last September.

An operation and a consequent delayed build-up due to a lengthy rehabilitation stretching into the winter spelt a later opener to the season and the European bronze medallist could just be looking to get a feel of his current shape and regain his footing on the international stage before he engages higher gears.

“Track stomp”, featuring ‘Barbie Jingles’ (Montell Douglas) and ‘The Danvers’ (Tasha Danvers), is already trending beyond the British shores and this is the so-called ‘Dancehall Edition’. Do have a look at it!

Initiating a new regular series drifting way down Memory Lane, let’s recall great Scot Alan Wells outleaning Cuban Silvio Leonard, one of a less than a handful sprinters to have dipped under 10 secs at the time, on the line to snatch the first British gold over 100m in the Olympics since legendary Harold Abrahams in Paris 1924, laying the ghost of 56 years without a title to rest.

The winning time did not strike so spectacular, 10.24 secs on a tailwind of 1.6m/sec, but Wells said afterwards that despite the wind reading on the gauge he felt like running into a headwind from lane eight, a notion that could be backed up by the fact that he had run an easy-looking UK record of 10.11 secs in the semifinals earlier on.

Watch American miler Lopez Lomong, a 3:32.20 PB over 1500m, relate his incredible, amazingly touching story of how he was taken captive as a kid in Sudan, escaped and fled into Kenya where he picked up running, got motivated and inspired watching Michael Johnson win and shed a tear on the podium in Altanta 1996 to subsequently make the big decision to seek his own fortune across the Atlantic, where he finally did not only made the Olympics but was also honoured to be the flag bearer of the US team in Beijing. Most definitely worth a look!

Teenage prodigy Delano Williams blew away the field  over the 200m final to wrap up a sensational sprint double at the ISSA/Grace Kennedy Championships in Kingston, Jamaica, then went on to reveal that he has obtained a British passport that enables him to represent Britain henceforth.

The 18-year-old hails from the British dependent islands of Turks & Caicos in the Caribbean, which have no NOC, so applied to represent the Great Albion instead and earn the right to compete in the London Olympics, thereby an identical case to Istanbul bronze medallist Shara Proctor who has switched allegiance from Anguilla.

Williams will still have to be cleared first to become eligible for the British team for London but that shouldn’t normally take that much time while he already holds the A qualifying standard for the 200m with 20.53 secs from earlier this winter, which would render him as a genuine contender for an individual berth.

At the same time, he is also a very competent quarter-miler of a PB of 45.7 secs, albeit not yet registered in the IAAF statistics, that could set him up nicely to turn a valuable asset for the men’s 4x400m relay in the future as well.

On Friday evening, he accomplished the first part of his campaign as recovered from a poor start to come through strong in the later stages and snatch the 100m title at the death in a PB of 10.37 (-0.5m/sec) from Jazeel Murphy, runner-up in 10.39.

A thriller as the shorter dash turned out, his authority was never to be questioned over the 200m the following day. He swept smoothly round the bend to come into the home straight well in command and built on powerfully thereon all the way to carve out huge daylight on the opposition, crossing the line almost half a second clear in 21.18 to 21.67 secs.

His time may not make headlines at first sight but seen against a -3.3m/sec adverse gale blowing into his face that translates into something in the 20.4 secs region or thereabouts, having eased through the semifinals in 20.75 secs – now that is something to turn heads!

But what really mattered, as he beamed during his post-race interview, was that both golds were buried and dusted in the bag and a giant step was taken towards those precious Olympics in London for a magical couple of days.

Incidentally, Jamaica-based Briton Nethanee Mitchell-Blake scrambled through to sneak bronze in 21.72 secs in that latter final after a PB of 21.49 through the rounds earlier on, completing a virtual British double presence on the podium.

With the World Indoor Championships now behind us and slotted into the timeline of history, it’s about time to assess performances and pick out the individuals that have made the greatest impression around on the arena of Istanbul from Friday through to Sunday. Let’s start with the ladies first where there is a wide diversity of choices on offer to pick from.

Natalya Dobrynska blended an upset on favourites Jessica Ennis and Tatyana Chernova along with a world record in the pentathlon, Sanyar Richards-Ross thoroughly dominated the 400m, Sally Pearson turned a class apart over the hurdles in 7.73 secs and Brittney Reese worked magic to fly out to a massive 7.23m in the long jump.

But there were also the underdogs that triumphed like returning mother Chaunte Howard-Lowe to stun the nearly invincible Anna Chicherova in the high jump, Yamile Aldama to land a first major title well into her 39 years at an impressive 14.82m and the British quarter of Shana Cox, Nicola Sanders, Christine Ohuruogu and Perri Shakes-Drayton that ran out of their skin to pip the US outfit on the line against all odds in the women’s 4x400m.

So whom would you go for? Make your pick please!

Top American marathon runner Ryan Hall, qualified for the US Olympic team to London, offers his own insights into picking the right workouts every time as well as shaking things up in a training regime if need be to avoid accommodation and ensuing failure to progress.

The January edition of Anyika Onuora‘s video blog series has come out and offers glimpses into her blocks/start workouts, either free-run or sledge-harnessed, along with other relative drills. Asha Philip, Britain’s top-ranked 60m sprinter this winter, makes a cameo paying host duties.